Syracuse, SUNY ESF Host Science Exploration Day for Regional Youth
More than a hundred middle and high school students, along with their parents and teachers, recently descended on the University for a daylong science adventure.
Called STEM Day on the Hill, the event was part of a two-day festival known as the Dr. Nelson Ying Tri Region Science and Engineering Fair (Ying TRSEF), featuring three separate competitions. Winners of the science fair portion will advance to the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, the world’s leading pre-collegiate science competition, in May.
While STEM Day on the Hill served students from the North Country, Southern Tier and Western New York, Ying TRSEF as a whole catered to those from 25 Upstate counties. Ying TRSEF is named for the internationally renowned Chinese-American philanthropist who, in this instance, personally matches all donations and grants of up to $15,000.
Gary Bonomo G’10, a chemistry lab supervisor and instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences, helped organize STEM Day on the Hill. “It’s important for students to explore their talents and to challenge their minds in the STEM fields,” he says, referring to science, technology, engineering and mathematics. “STEM Day on the Hill provides rich experiential learning that also is a lot of fun.”
Bonomo credits much of STEM Day’s success to his colleagues in the Department of Chemistry, the College of Engineering and Computer Science and Information Technology & Services at Syracuse; and in the departments of Environmental and Forest Biology and Paper and Bioprocess Engineering at SUNY ESF.
Adds Ying TRSEF Director Mary Eileen Wood G’73: “Such student experiences can ignite a passion that launches a career. Role models and mentors alike must pass the torch of STEM knowledge to future scientists and engineers.”
Faculty, staff and students from both Syracuse and SUNY ESF joined volunteers from area companies to oversee various events and activities. Topics included electrical engineering, protein analysis, water hardness titration, wildlife and botanicals, scientific glassblowing, paper science and anti-hacking.
The program also featured live Skype conversations with Tony Jimenez, founder, president and CEO of MicroTech, a service-disabled veteran-owned business; and Lynn Pasquerella, president of Mount Holyoke College, as well as a distinguished philosopher and ethicist.
“Our goal is to encourage students to learn beyond the classroom,” Bonomo adds. “We’re helping develop the next generation of scientists and engineers—a rewarding experience, indeed.”