Tech Valley High School News Release: Design Expo showcases STEM
approach at TVHS
Tech Valley High School (TVHS), located at SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Albany site, held its Engineering Design Expo for students on Tuesday, May 3 at SUNY Poly’s Zero Energy Nanotechnology (ZEN) building. This benchmark event showcases the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) approach used in the TVHS curriculum.
Students were asked to either create new projects or revise and polish projects they created earlier this year. They presented their work at the event and gave elevator pitches to guests to describe the engineering design process. Some of the projects included robots, a water filtration system, handmade microscopes, student-created computer programs and games, science experiments, and a working model of a wind turbine, to name a few.
While the projects were very different, they all had one thing in common: they all featured problems that were solved through the use of the engineering design process.
“STEM education is a nebulous term in New York, where students in every kind of public high school are required to complete the same elements,” Principal James Niedermeier said. “When we say that we have a STEM focus, that certainly doesn’t mean that our students don’t complete the same art and humanities requirements that their peers in more traditional schools have to complete. While we do have some science and technology requirements that other schools may not have, that doesn’t make us a STEM school either. Our approach to problem-solving using the methods refined by scientists and engineers is what gives us our STEM flavor,” Niedermeier said.
“As someone with a humanities background, I can tell you firsthand that this process is a helpful mindset to have when making anything, whether it is a painting, an essay, or a robot,” Niedermeier said. “The design expo gives students a chance to reflect on the process instead of content, which is a pretty valuable metacognitive task.”
For her presentation, Junior Isabella Coleda of Schodack revised an essay she wrote as a freshman.
“The process really showed how I have grown as a writer,” she said.
TVHS Business Alliance member Charles P. Steiner, president of the Capital Region Chamber, said the event illustrated the students’ communication and presentation skills.
“I learned it wasn’t all about the glitz of a flashy poster. The students had a lot of passion in their presentations, and it was very impressive,” Steiner said.
This is the first time that TVHS has held its annual expo at the ZEN building since moving to its new state-of-the-art facility at SUNY Poly’s Albany Nanotech complex in 2014. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the partnership between TVHS and SUNY Poly in 2013 as a means to better prepare students for New York’s growing nanotechnology industry and build a world-class workforce to support it.
“To have the opportunity to host this event in such a cutting-edge facility is a great professional experience for our students,” Niedermeier said. “It’s a great example of the enhanced academic opportunities made possible through our strategic partnership with SUNY Poly.”
“I congratulate each of the Tech Valley High School students who participated in this unique event, which supports Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s innovation-based education to careers pipeline for New York State’s students,” SUNY Poly President and CEO Dr. Alain Kaloyeros said. “SUNY Poly is proud to partner with TVHS to support the Engineering Design Expo as well as other similar programs which enhance students’ education and provide them with critical real-world skills for the growing number of high-tech careers across New York State.”