Uptown electeds Melissa Mark-Viverito and Ydanis Rodriguez comment on a study of middle school students who participated in the New York City Department of Design and Construction’s (DDC) Middle School Summer Enrichment Program has found that, after the program, students overall were more interested in technical career fields.Also, it found that they had a desire to take more science and math classes, and felt more confident about their ability to do advanced math and science and to become engineers or architects.
Throughout July, middle school students from District 9 in the Bronx learned about the built environment from ancient time to the present using a vocabulary- and concept-rich curriculum developed by the DDC’s STEAM division. Students received instruction four mornings per week from DDC educators on science, technology, engineering, art/architecture and math (STEAM), and on Fridays they visited sites where they focused on the relationship between architecture, design, and visual art. Field trips included the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of the City of New York, the New York Hall of Science, and Google’s New York headquarters in Chelsea.
At the beginning of the program, the students completed an attitudinal data questionnaire with 21 statements asking them to rank from 1 to 4 – with 1 being “strongly disagree” and 4 being “strongly agree” – their affinity toward and perceived capability in STEAM learning and STEAM career fields. At the end of July, 19 students who completed the program responded to the same questionnaire.
The results showed:
- A 25% increase in the desire to take more math and science classes;
- A 21% decrease in the belief that engineering and architecture are fields for other people, not for underrepresented students like those in the program;
- A 19% decrease in students not liking math and science;
- A 12% increase in interest in STEAM careers; and
- A 10% increase in confidence while completing STEAM projects, as well as the belief that students like those in the program can become engineers and architects.
In addition, students who responded to the final questionnaire showed a roughly 30% improvement in the understanding of certain architectural and engineering terms, the ability to match two-dimensional shapes to their three-dimensional counterparts, the ability to scale down diagrams and blueprints, and the understanding of basic machines such as pulleys and levers.
Wilfredo, a former DDC STEAM LeAp middle school student from MS 22 in the South Bronx, is presently a 9th grade student at the Bronx Design and Construction Academy. “Thank you DDC for instilling in me a desire to pursue a career in Architecture, Engineering and Construction and guiding me to a CTE school that can help me achieve that goal,” he said. “Through DDC STEAM I have learned many things. In addition to architecture and engineering concepts, I’ve also learned about design financing, how to judge a building’s height, ethics, the impact of design on natural disasters like earthquakes, and the importance of building resilient structures.
“Because of DDC STEAM, I am doing well in high school, passing all my classes with honors and having fun, while learning at the same time. I have also been accepted into the ACE Mentor Program where I am learning and building on many of the same concepts and skills I learned in my DDC STEAM Team class in LeAp. Thank you so much for the opportunities you have made available to me!” Wilfredo added.
“Exposure to a wide variety of ideas leads to increased opportunities for our kids — and these results show it also leads to increased confidence for young people,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We’re very pleased to support the DDC and the City’s other summer education programs as we help mold future generations of young scholars.”
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“Many students lack the confidence to enter the STEAM fields. Worse still, many studies suggest that students believe that women and minorities have no place in those fields. DDC’s program results show that we are being very successful at nurturing students’ interest in engineering, architecture, and technology in middle school, an essential time in their personal development,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “We are very proud of these results and look forward to working again with public school students throughout the City.”
“This survey underscores the fact that many children from disadvantaged communities are hungry for an opportunity to excel in challenging work. Engineering, architecture, and other STEAM fields suffer from a lack of minorities and women. Our research gives real hope that that can change,” said Lee Llambelis, DDC Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships and STEAM Initiatives.
“Equity and Excellence for All means bringing opportunity to every student and family regardless of where they live or what language they speak at home,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “The DDC Middle School Summer Enrichment Program brings exciting opportunities for students and exposes them to high-demand STEM fields, helping to ensure participating students have the tools they need to achieve success in the 21st century economy.”
“The results of the survey build on the growing momentum of Science, Technology, Engineering, Architecture/Arts and Mathematics activities in afterschool. This great summer program exposes our young people to the high demand STEAM subjects, giving them essential professional skills that will help them during the school year, and into their adult lives,” said NYC Department of Youth & Community Development Commissioner Bill Chong. “DYCD is proud to continue collaborating with DDC and community-based organizations in bringing the exciting world of engineering to classrooms in the Bronx and across New York City.”
Students in underserved communities have historically lacked the resources to engage in the kinds of early learning programs that set children up to thrive in STEAM fields…
“Students in underserved communities have historically lacked the resources to engage in the kinds of early learning programs that set children up to thrive in STEAM fields,” said Harlem City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “With the DDC Middle School Summer Enrichment Program, those opportunities have begun to take shape for youth around New York City. In a global city that thrives on innovation, I look forward to what this next generation will bring to the table.”
“Infusing the education of underserved middle schooler’s with STEAM education is an impactful way of opening doors to careers they may not have considered before,” said Council Member Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. “I applaud Commissioner Peña Mora for his dedication to uplifting our youth through education and taking the role of DDC further to support working families.”
…every student in NYC has the potential to achieve at high levels, and we as a city must do more to cultivate their passion for learning and especially for the boundless world of science and technology…
“We need more STEAM education citywide if we want to be competitive into the future,” said Harlem’s Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “I’ve been a major proponent of STEAM education in my district and I am glad that the Department of Design and Construction is working to move the needle as well. The fact is, every student in NYC has the potential to achieve at high levels, and we as a city must do more to cultivate their passion for learning and especially for the boundless world of science and technology.”
“Keeping up in today’s world means not only mastering reading, writing and arithmetic but also introducing and exposing students to programs that bring together science, technology, engineering, art/architecture and math, or STEAM programs,” said Council Member Deborah Rose. “The Department of Design and Construction’s Young Engineers Program, which brought hands-on lessons about environmentally conscious design and green roofs to dozens of students at IS 49 in Stapleton, helps ensure that our education is on the cutting edge. This important program also paves the way for a lifelong interest in STEAM fields that can lead to fulfilling careers in tomorrow’s competitive world.”
“From DUMBO to Silicon Alley, the City of New York is home to some of the most prestigious institutions that are revolutionizing STEAM industries. Despite the wealth of opportunities that exist within these sectors, women and people of color are underrepresented. As Chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues, I want to commend the NYC Department of Design and Construction for their innovative approach to bridging the gap through the Middle School Summer Enrichment Program. Our city’s youth deserve a gateway that will provide equal access to the resources that can inspire them to pursue nontraditional careers and ultimately change the outlook of this workforce,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.
“LEAP is proud to partner with the DDC to provide creative STEAM learning experiences for NYC youth, leveling the playing fields for students in underserved communities by encouraging them to see their tremendous potential as future members of the 21st Century workforce. The program we offered in this deserving community fostered creativity, built STEM skills and opened paths to career exploration,” said Richard Souto, Executive Director of Learning through an Expanded Arts Program (LeAp).
“The Fordham Street Foundation is proud to support this important work and pleased to see that STEAM education makes real changes in students’ attitudes towards technical careers,” said Judy Bigelow, Director of the Fordham Street Foundation. “We are particularly delighted to encourage and involve students of color in these fields.”
The study was performed by Dr. Leonisa Ardizzone, who helped develop DDC’s STEAM curriculum, and was funded by a generous grant from the Fordham Street Foundation, which also helped fund Maker Bot technology students used to create 3D models of the structures they designed over the summer.
Dr. Ardizzone has been an educator for over 20 years and provides professional and curriculum development for schools, community centers, media outlets, and museums. She holds an Ed.D. in International Educational Development with a specialization in Peace Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and Ed.M in Science Education and a B.A. in Biology. She was the Executive Director of the non-profit Salvadori Center and founded Storefront Science, a learning program that focuses on interdisciplinary exploration, inquiry and scientific process.
For their final project students in the DDC Middle School Summer Enrichment Program built a “Future City,” incorporating elements of design throughout history that they studied over the summer. The students were divided into ten groups, with each constructing a section of their proposed Future City, including handmade and 3D printed models of modern buildings, pyramids, classic buildings, dams, bridges, and more. Students in the Middle School Summer Enrichment Program received free backpacks and books on construction so they can pursue their learning.
DDC partnered with LeAp for its middle school summer program. LeAp is funded by the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD).
DDC STEAM started in 2014 to establish a diverse and inclusive pipeline for New York City’s youth to engage in the architecture, construction, and engineering industries. STEAM programs at DDC also include high school and college summer internships.
For more information, please visit nyc.gov/ddc.