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Hostos Closing STEP Program Ceremony

On August 8th Lee Llambelis, DDC Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships and STEAM Initiatives attended the closing ceremony for the Hostos Community College Summer Science and Technology Entry Program (Proyecto Access STEP). The STEP Program seeks to support secondary school students who are economically disadvantaged or minorities that have been historically underrepresented in the STEM professions. Proyecto Access STEP encourages the participation of high achieving and minority students so that they will continue their studies through college graduation with majors in science, engineering, and other mathematics-based disciplines. Prior to the start of the STEP summer program, Hostos educators attended the DDC STEAM Professional Development workshop on Coastal Resiliency. Over the summer they were able to implement DDC’s new “Coastal Resiliency” curricula, which features hands-on engineering-and architecture-related activities.

Hostos President David Gomez stated, “Proyecto Access STEP is a year-round program with an intense summer session that reinforces the development of students abstract reasoning and problem-solving skills. Our Proyecto ACCESS STEP students now have a better understanding of the world of the built environment and are equipped to take their first steps towards a STEM related career.  The students who participated in this summer program were engaged and excited to be learning about STEAM concepts. It was nothing short of inspiring.”

Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships and STEAM Initiatives Lee Llambelis stated, “The program shows students how Hurricane Sandy devastated parts of NYC and raises awareness of the effect Global Climate Change and extreme weather can have on coastal areas. It teaches students about how NYC has begun to develop ways to protect the shoreline. As part of this effort, DDC created a "Saving the Shore” curricula, which we piloted with Hostos STEP students over the summer.  STEP students learned about the importance of building resilient structures and sustainable infrastructure, and the methods used to protect local communities from extreme weather. This new curriculum exemplifies project-based learning, built environment projects and the science of Global Climate Change.”

On Engineering Day, students displayed their towers and bridges, alongside poster presentations in a showcase to their friends, family and community stake holders. Students presented and tested their projects and competed to see which group built the most resilient structure. The projects were judged based on a set of criteria which include appearance, the number of sticks used and the maximum load they were able to hold without failing. Student winners were recognized at the closing ceremony with certificates, medals and trophies.

“Seeing these students thrive is what keeps me going. I believe in the potential of each student that comes through our Proyecto ACCESS STEP at Hostos, sometimes that is all a student needs, encouragement. And that alone can set a student journey onward and that is why what we do is so important. We prepare students to be strong and able for themselves,” said Professor Koffi.

Over the course of the summer, Hostos Community College STEP students learned:

(1) about resilience through structural failures and that a "failed" attempt is an opportunity to learn and improve; (2) that engineers solve problems and (3) design solutions while recognizing and working around different limitations, including materials and cost, and using their creativity in STEAM.

The students learned these concepts via the fields of engineering: structural, mechanical, and environmental engineering. Using Saving the Shore: East River Coastal Resilience guidebook, students were engaged in five modules: 1) Mapping & Hurricane Sandy, 2) Hurricanes, 3) Erosion; 4) Climate Change and 5) Solutions & Designing a Model.

The students also studied mechanical principles by building truss bridges to learn about force distribution, tension and compression; concepts critical to the engineering design process. Students also conducted activities such as creating a hurricane model in which they measured physical parameters such as wave heights. The activity allowed them to understand the effect of wind speed on the height of waves.  The program places emphasis on learner-centered instruction, technology used in classroom, and preparation of students for their transition from school to the high technology workplace.