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Tuesday, Mar 17, 2015

Students see careers in STEM learning

Students see careers in STEM learning

“I don’t know if I’ll work in nanotechnology, but it was exciting to see the special laboratory and learn about this kind of science. It makes learning new things a lot more interesting.” Kalif, a senior at Berkshire Jr./Sr. High School is gratified by his visit to Nano Career Day at SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering on February 5, 2015. He was one of a dozen students from Berkshire’s school who attended, along with two teachers and two school staff members.

imageThe event, designed to inspire students to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) careers, featured hands-on experiments that engaged the body, mind, and imagination. Justice, one of Berkshire’s students actually wore a cleanroom suit, affectionately called a “bunny suit” by scientists at the College (photo to left).

The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany gives the students a variety of tours, science, and hands-on activities and experiments. Nanotechnology is a burgeoning field and experts project a need for more than four million new technology workers over the next five to ten years. Strong STEM education is an essential preparation.

“Many of our students haven’t been exposed to the high-tech world before, so as their first experience, this was a positive one,” said Berkshire’s Rebecca LaForest, who organized the field trip. “I work with students at different levels and it is not always easy to get them engaged in some subjects. Science can be difficult, but outings like this get their attention, and we plan to bring our students to other career day activities in the area.”

LaForest pointed out that the school has active STEM classes, including the Cisco Networking Academy. Berkshire’s Cisco Lab is part of the Workforce Development Program, which connects real work experience to what students learn in school and has raised graduation rates dramatically. Through hands-on learning, students in the Cisco Lab gain highly technical skills in high demand today. They also learn that they can not only graduate from high school but can aim for high-skill, high-pay careers.

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