Over the past few weeks I have been working with community activists from the Tayshana "Chicken" Murphy Foundation to organize the Love in the Neighborhood (LION) STEM Fair. The purpose of the fair is to generate interest among adolescents and teenagers from New York City high schools in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. My goal in this was to connect Columbia students majoring or minoring in Science, Engineering, or Math fields with students from a West Harlem high school. They will mentor the high schoolers through a science project that will positively impact the health, environment or relationships within their community. The STEM project will be featured at a STEM Fair at Columbia University on March 4th, 2017.
This science fair will have presentations from entrepreneurs, technologists, scientists, and other sponsors. We have invited youth from area middle and high schools.
This project is working with the community directly impacted by Columbia's expansion. The founder of the foundation has actively worked and fought for peace in the community. Students and community members continue to advocate for the just and effective allocation of Columbia's purported Community Benefits Agreement of which the community has seen very little. For those interested in this Community Benefits agreement, see this interesting article.
The students are already working on projects involving sound analysis, neuroscience, renewable energy, and water filtration. One interesting aspect of this is how quickly the students engaged in making connections between the arts and sciences. Their high school is a performing arts high school with specific programs in dance, singing, theater, and fashion. Even then they expressed great interest in exploring other STEM fields and generally addressing the issues which they see as important.
I hope to connect EdLab with this work perhaps in the form of a presentation at the science fair.