“There should be no doubt about the importance and timeliness of this work that you are doing right here…I hope you will convey to [your students] how lucky they are to have a sophisticated research testbed right in their own backyard, and to be getting hands-on, immersive learning in areas that will shape their future and that of our planet,” Jelena Kovačević, William R. Berkley Professor and Dean of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, addressed the 2020 COSMOS-NewLAW RET/REM teacher cohort and final presentation attendees.
The COSMOS-NewLAW RET/REM Program hosted a cohort of teachers for the third consecutive summer during July 2020. With the continued support from the National Science Foundation’s Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation (EFRI) Program and the PAWR program, the summer program was able to shift to a virtual mentorship model for Summer 2020. This year’s cohort was composed of selected teachers who had participated in the intensive summer program in previous years. These returning teachers (names and schools listed above) were eager to continue their partnership and collaboration with researchers from New York University Tandon School of Engineering, and Columbia Engineering and Data Science Institute. Teachers represented schools from Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn, including two schools (The Mott Hall School and PS/MS 46 Arthur Tappan School) that are located in Harlem, where the COSMOS advanced wireless testbed is being deployed.
Jeannette Wing, Professor and Avanessians Director of the Columbia Data Science Institute, highlighted the importance of such partnerships during the final presentations meeting, “We in New York City have an incredibly diverse population of K-12 students, and this outreach activity with the COSMOS-NewLAW RET/REM program is really meant to make a difference.”
While the Summer 2020 RET teachers and mentors collaborated remotely, teachers were able to bring their Wireless Education Toolkits home to perform experiments in tandem with the development of the lessons and curricula to be used in the upcoming academic year. Through rigorous daily support from the NYU mentors, teachers focused on expanding specific wireless technology labs and lessons that they created in prior years that coincide with their classroom STEM subject-area curriculum. The virtual mentoring was led by Prof. Thanasis Korakis of NYU Tandon School of Engineering, and mentors included NYU graduate students and researchers Panagiotis Skrimponis, Virgilios Passas, Nikos Makris, Ananda Inguva, and Profs. Gil Zussman and Zoran Kostic from Columbia Electrical Engineering. The summer program was also coordinated in partnership between Ben Esner, Director of the Center for K12 STEM Education at NYU Tandon, Emily Ford, Director of Outreach Programs and Special Projects at Columbia Engineering, and Karen Cheng, Outreach Program Specialist at Columbia Engineering.
With the current global pandemic situation and continual shift towards blended learning environments, the intensive summer program also presented itself as an opportunity for teachers to create adjustments in these lessons for virtual learning with their students in the upcoming academic year. Teachers created many detailed ancillary materials for each lesson, including worksheets, quizzes, powerpoints, and even walkthrough videos, in which they guided their students through each Wireless Technology Toolkit experiment.
The teachers presented their work and summer program accomplishments at a final presentation on July 31st, 2020, at which members of the community, program partners, and NSF program managers attended.