Today, Kenny Nava, Cathy Jones, Jorge Flores, Samantha Bonilla and about 70 other Bronx high school students will "graduate" from a new, innovative school program called "GreenFab." They will know more about science and technology than me (that's for sure) and maybe you too. Without the kind of fanfare that accompanied the Sotomayor nomination - she's also a Bronx native - a perfect storm of excitement and innovation is brewing, once again, in the Bronx....and right before Bronx Week.
And it comes not a minute too soon. A "Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study" released earlier this year confirmed that the US is still not on the top ten list of science and math education countries. We're simply not graduating students who are ready, willing or able to take advantage of the kinds of science/tech/math jobs that are there right now. It's one of the job market's growth sectors, and that alone is big news.
Coincidentally, this week - June 10-12 - is the World Science Festival in NYC. The event draws luminaries from the world of science, and various lectures are already sold out. Majora Carter, the founder of Sustainable South Bronx, and a now-famous MacArthur "genius" with a new green economic development consulting firm of her own, will be hosting a multi-media session on Cool Jobs at the Festival. And she's also involved in the GreenFab program.
GreenFab is one of the first high school after-school programs to focus on eco-effective design and sustainable technologies. The students, all from Bronx Guild High School, worked alongside graduate students from NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program and educators from Vision Education & Media and Sustainable South Bronx. GreenFab students conducted an analysis of community needs and prototyped solutions to a variety of environmental challenges that ranged from climate change to water pollution in the Bronx River. Final projects include wind turbines made from recycled materials and energy efficient LED lighting kits.
The GreenFab partnership is an interesting one, the kind of public/private, national/local alliance that is being increasingly talked about. The program is developed by Vision Education & Media in partnership with Sustainable South Bronx and the Bronx Guild, a Big Picture Learning school; it's funded by the National Science Foundation. Majora Carter and the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) of NYU are collaborating partners.
GreenFab was created for students to see the potential within themselves and to give them the science, technology, engineering, and math experience that will allow them to graduate from high school, prepare and compete for sustainable and Green Collar jobs in the future - some of the same types of jobs that Ms. Carter will be speaking about at the science festival.
Richard Riley, the US Secretary of Education under President Clinton, waxed nothing short of poetic about the importance of a quality math and science education in this past Sunday's Greenville Weekly online. A little bite from that: "We must insist that our colleges and universities are at the table as full partners to the K-12 community, that science rich institutions are fully accessed and integrated into core math and science curriculum, and that the business and philanthropic community are pushing math and science education to the fore at every opportunity."
Mr. Riley, the Bronx is with you.
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