Educational Outreach has, and continues to be, an extremely vital component to the overall success of the Center. The educational component of the Center is multi-faceted in that our target groups include both pre-college students and teachers (middle school through high school) as well as industry people, many of whom have several years or more experience with thermal spray technology. Over the last 12 years CTSR has carried out a number of educational outreach initiatives, for undergraduates from Stony Brook and other regional universities, as well as local K-12 teachers and students. Our Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and International Experience for Undergraduates (IREU) programs have allowed students to work closely with CTSR and affiliated faculty mentors on focused, scientifically and industrially relevant problems for 10 summer weeks, on Stony Brook campus, or most recently at UCSB or Czech Technical Institute in Prague.
Through the new NSF program, we have formalized our outreach mechanism through the establishment of a dedicated outreach facility to expose a large of number students to materials, thermal spray and engineering systems named SPLAT Center (for Spraying, Learning and Teaching) , a specially designed, “kid-friendly” interactive research laboratory has been developed. Demonstrations and hands-on experiments will be part of the immersive nature of the lab. The goal is to expose a large number of middle school students and formulate a mechanisms for a sustained impact.
The Center hosts one-day field trips to pre-college students, most recently to a group of Kings Park high school students. The one-day field trip includes a morning class-room lecture introducing materials science and engineering and thermal spray applications followed by an afternoon of laboratory demonstrations and experimentations. The program has been very successful and feedback from participants has been quite positive. One student stated that the field of materials science and engineering was not one that they had heard of prior to the Center field trip, but now has so much enthusiasm for it, wants to spend his summer researching a project in this very field. Qualified high school students are also offered summer research positions where they develop a project rooted in materials science and work closely with the Center's faculty, staff and graduate students learning laboratory protocol and procedures. During the 2003 summer, four high school students are interning at the Center on projects that will be submitted to the Intel and Westinghouse competitions.
Science and Engineering Camp for kids
The CTSR hosted a series of science and engineering week long camps during the past summer. Kids from throughout Long Island entering grades 4-10 spent the week exploring coating technology, engineering design, paleontology, marine biology, chromatography, DNA and rocket design. Each full day was broken down into morning and afternoon sessions with a sports break after lunch. The kids also toured campus visiting important University landmarks including Roth Pond, Seawolves Stadium, the Wang Asian Cultural Center and the Natural History Museum of Long Island.
“The goal of our camp was to expose kids to the scientific world around them and for them to gain confidence in their abilities through fun, hands-on experimentation”, says Ms. Lysa Russo, camp director. Over fifty future engineers and scientists participated in the camp which was run by four New York State Certified teachers and Ms. Russo.
Assessments were conducted before and after each topic was discussed to determine the effectiveness of the teaching methodology. On average, students from each grade level exhibited a thirty percent increase in understanding of the material discussed proving that kids really do learn better when they are having fun!
“Thank you for providing a rewarding, intellectually stimulating alternative for kids like my son—smart, fun and curious about the world around them!”, said the parent of one camper. “It was such a pleasure to listen to our child excitedly tell us about her day at your camp!”, said another.
BEST Robotics hub
BEST is a non-profit, volunteer organization whose mission is to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology through participation in a sports-like, science– and engineering– based robotics competition. The program is geared for young students around the country in grades 6-10. Currently, New York State does not have a chapter hub; staff from the CTSR and Stony Brook University are looking to establish such a hub for the state
Each year in early September, the students are given a very sizable challenge of designing a fully functioning robot capable of performing tasks based upon the year’s theme. This year’s theme is ‘Just Plane Crazy’ and will require the students to design and manufacture a robot that will be capable of assembling an aircraft! The challenge is even more daunting in that the students only have six weeks to do all their work. Competition Day is scheduled for October 19, 2008 at Central Connecticut State University.
The robot, which can not weigh more than 24 pounds and must fit into a 24 inch cube, should be able to perform the following tasks:
- Exit the starting position and activate a tie-breaker switch
- Enter the Warehouse and collect the subassemblies of the aircraft being assembled and deliver them to the Assembly Area
- Completely assemble each aircraft and transport it to the Delivery Center
- Navigate around, or re-position Foreign Object Debris (FOD).
The robot needs to accomplish as many of these tasks as possible in only three minutes!
The Stony Brook team, which has named itself “LIB”, short for Long Island’s Best, is comprised of fifteen middle school students from public, private and even home schools across Long Island. Students were selected based upon their interest in robotics and desire to work hard over the next few weeks. The students receive guidance from four undergraduate students, three faculty members and many of the parents of team members.
Students not only receive points for robot design and performance in the competition but for good sportsmanship, oral presentation, web-site design, table top display and team spirit.
In addition to the support of the CTSR and Stony Brook University, this year’s BEST competition has received sponsorship from Pratt & Whitney, Lowe’s, Igus and SolidWorks.
We wish Team LIB great success in their first ever robotics competition!