Science Symposium Caps Yearlong
Program for Local Students

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June 13, 2008

More than 180 New York City secondary school students will gather Saturday at Columbia University to demonstrate and celebrate their achievements in an after-school program designed to engage teens in scientific learning and discovery. 


For the past eight months, 180 secondary-school students, who live in underserved communities throughout New York City, have been taking weekly engineering and astrophysics classes on Columbia’s campus, thanks to a grant from the Charles Hayden Foundation. On Saturday, June 14, students who participated in the Hayden Astrophysics, Engineering and Applied Sciences Program will showcase their projects to family, friends and members of the community. More than 400 people are expected to attend the event.


The Hayden Program, managed by Columbia’s Center for Technology, Innovation and Community Engagement at the University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, features cutting-edge methods for learning engineering, mathematics, astrophysics and planetary sciences. By giving first-hand experience in University laboratory facilities, the program has provided students with an opportunity to study radiation, grow crystals, design hydroponics systems, build robotic prototypes and experiment with optics. Participants were taught by Columbia engineering professors, as well as undergraduates who served as mentors.


“The program motivates student-learning by teaching them to value knowledge as a way to build confidence and self-esteem,” said Jack McGourty, associate dean of Columbia’s Engineering School and co-director of the program. He added that the program emphasizes social responsibility and promotes activities that engage students “academically, culturally and emotionally.”


Students were selected from a large applicant pool based on their academic and attendance records at various public schools throughout New York City. Columbia’s Center for Technology, Innovation and Community Engagement was founded in 2006 to create partnerships promoting community-based learning. It seeks to educate socially responsible students and provide benefits to the Upper Manhattan community.


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