During the summer, Stony Brook’s campus is busy with camps and academic programs for learners of all ages, offering opportunities for community residents to get involved with the University.
One of those programs is TechPREP. Launched in 2008, TechPREP is a multi-track program aimed at engaging 6th, 7th, and 8th grade young women from high-needs school districts with technology demonstrations, classroom instruction, and experimental participation. This year’s school districts included Brentwood Union Free School District Middle Schools (including East, West, North), William Floyd Middle School, and William Paca Middle School. To meet increased demand, this week-long program was held twice this year.
The middle school students were involved in a multitude of events including printing key chains, an egg drop activity, and a build a bridge activity. The egg drop activity required the students to find a way to protect an egg from breaking after being dropped from a three-story building. For the build a bridge activity, students had to create a model bridge using only newspaper and tape with the goal of supporting a shoebox filled with water bottles.
“My favorite activity was the egg drop. We filled a container with 20 packaging peanuts and newspaper, and used a bag as a parachute,” said Adrianna Satornino, an 8th grade student enjoying her second year in the program. “The egg did survive.”
The students also learned about entrepreneurship, digital design, Photoshop, GoPro cameras, and other useful information. Technology demonstrations such as the laser cutter allowed students to experience high-tech innovations in the modern world.
“This program shows the students what’s out there. It can influence them on to what they might want to major in,” said Rhianna Ruggiero, an undergraduate student majoring in physics and mentor of the program. “Everyone walks away with a souvenir too.”
TechPREP, managed by the SBU Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program, is funded through the Innovation Generation Grant from the Motorola Solutions Foundation and participation is free for middle school students from underserved areas. Carrie-Ann Miller, the Director of WISE, and Paul Siegel, an adjunct lecturer in the Department of Technology & Society, are the co-directors of TechPREP.