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DDC and Figure Skating in Harlem Implement the Building the Future Curricula

Students work on building a beam bridge.

Students work on building a beam bridge as part of the Building for the Future curricula

(Harlem, NY – February 24, 2020) The New York City Department of Design and Construction’s STEAM Team visited Figure Skating in Harlem (FSH) to observe and assist with the implementation of the DDC Young Engineers curricula Building the Future.  
Figure Skating in Harlem helps girls transform their lives and grow in confidence, leadership and academic achievement. FSH is the only organization in the world for girls of color that combines the power of education with access to the artistic discipline of figure skating to build champions in life.
STEAM Initiatives Program Coordinators Gemelli Briceño and Jenny Ng observed a class where students where engaged in the construction of a Beam Bridge. The girls created a bridge spanning across two table edges using plastic straws, masking and packing tape. This activity helps students identify and understand how tension and compression forces impact physical structures. The girls tested the structural integrity of their bridges by adding marbles in a cup on the bridge. The goal was to build a structure that would not collapse with the weight of the marbles. The marbles serve to simulate the weight placed on bridges by vehicles and other heavy equipment.
The young engineers in the making at Figure Skating in Harlem surpassed their own expectations. They demonstrated confidence in their designs and engaged in collaborative thinking and strategizing with one another as they created their structures.   
“It is critically important for young women to be exposed to the STEAM professions, and in particular careers in Engineering, Architecture and Construction. These are the careers of the future and there are presently very few women in the pipeline. If young women are going to compete in a global 21st century economy, they need to be prepared. This is an opportunity to reach the young women who will one day diversify the STEAM workforce and broaden the pool of ideas that influence the built environment,” said DDC Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships & STEAM Initiatives Lee Llambelis.
Sharon Cohen, Executive Director of Figure Skating in Harlem stated, “This opportunity to collaborate has paid off in dividends for our girls. It harnesses their natural curiosity and shows them that engineering and STEAM careers are for them, too.  Knowledge is power and we are grateful for this special initiative that is making a difference.”
Erika Santana, Figure Skating in Harlem instructor
, stated, “The student’s ability to work in teams has grown as they are enjoying working on the activities together.”  


Students gather for a demonstration of the beam bridge

Students watch as the beam bridge is tested. Marbles are placed in a cup.


About the NYC Department of Design and Construction

The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $14 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit