Educators play a pivotal role in advancing the technological, robotics, and STEAM skills of the next generation. In addition to teaching students essential skills, teachers and education professionals in these fields help foster technology-related passion and curiosity.
As the most populous city in America, it makes sense that New York is a hub for makerspaces and technology educators. From Brooklyn to Bay Shore, we’ve rounded up some of the most inspiring educators in the region.
Mitchel Resnick is an author and professor of learning research at the MIT Media Lab. The core of his work is helping engage people and children in playful, creative experiences that make the world a better place. He is the cofounder of The Clubhouse Network, a global network of after-school learning programs that provide technology and creative expression to children from underserved communities.
Resnick also sits on the science and technology advisory board of Robofun, New York City’s center for innovative science, technology, engineering, and math. From game design to robotics, Robofun offers after-school and summer camps and courses for kids from kindergarten through sixth grade.
Lou Lahana, Ed.D. is a makerspace coordinator at The Island School, a public institution in Manhattan focused on passion-based learning. Having founded a social action makerspace, Lahana believes in the power of amplifying student voice to ignite social change in the world.
By teaching students how to make a difference through effective technology applications, Lahana is preparing the next generation of thinkers to create tools for social actions. He helps students in grades four through eight make these important changes by applying low-tech and high-tech skills, including open-source hardware (e.g., Arduino), 3D printing, leather crafting ,jewelry making, woodwork, digital music composition, robotics, and sewable electronics.
Francesca Rodriguez Sawaya
Francesca Rodriguez Sawaya is a technologist, multimedia designer and lead teacher at NYC First — a program that brings immersive hands-on robotics education to 7,000 young students annually. The goal of NYC First is to engage young leaders in science, technology, and engineering to explore creativity across scientific mediums, and prepare them for future jobs in STEM fields. As a teacher at NYC First, Sawaya is in charge of developing curriculum and teaching STEM-related subjects.
Kim Magloire is a biologist, epidemiologist and founder of SciTech Kids. She considers herself a modern STEAM leader passionate about nurturing talented young minds. Magliore also believes that when children are taught science and engineering using hands-on activities, they can excel in these areas while also learning 21st century skills.
She incorporates decision making, communicating and collaborating into workshops and classes at SciTech Kids, fostering connections between science and daily life. In addition to writing science education books, Magloire has twice presented at SXSW on the topic of increasing the number of underrepresented students in STEM fields.
John Suozzi is passionate about cultivating creativity and inquiry through project-based, hands-on STEM activities. With former roles in business, entrepreneurship, and education, Suozzi has a strong understanding of how to ignite change in the world.
These skills are applied in his role as a makerspace facilitator through the First Lego League Robotics Program. Suozzi is affiliated with Jack Abrams STEM Magnet School in Huntington Station, New York, and in this role, he helps small groups successfully complete the First Lego League robotics program. A number of his students have gone on to compete in national competitions under his guidance.
Issac Wellish is an education assistant and workshop teacher at MakerSpace NYC. Wellish believes that traditional technology teaching can be inaccessible to many students, and he prefers to teach STEM concepts through music, art and nature. These are the methods by which he learned to love technology, and he enjoys inspiring young learners in this way.
In his education role at MakerSpace NYC, Wellish travels to schools across Brooklyn and Staten Island to teach STEM topics and beginner electronics workshops. His classes include a variety of modern makerspace tools, including a 3D printer, essential tools for making and a drill press, among others.
Alexandra Kaufman is a teacher at Dazzling Discoveries. This is a science, technology, and engineering educational center hosting camps, workshops, and classes, with multiple locations across New York City. Kaufman is a published neuroscience researcher who’s passionate about experimental design, the implementation of research projects and how to communicate complex scientific information effectively.
As an after school program teacher at Dazzling Discoveries, Kaufman has the opportunity to apply these passions in a way that inspires the next generation. She engages students in hands-on activities that encourage their technical thinking in creative ways.
Daniel Kirk is a Brooklyn-based educator with a lifelong passion for educating youth through hands-on learning and creative problem solving. He manages makerspace programs at New York Hall of Science. In his role at NYSCI, Kirk works with a team of facilitators to design and implement programming centered around creative makers.
This makerspace uses workshops with tools and everyday materials to provide students with immersive, real-world experiences they can apply to their daily lives. Students from preschool to high school are welcome in different workshops at NYSCI, which are designed to facilitate problem solving in group formats.
Alia Carponter-Walker is the director of camps and program development at Curious Jane, which offers camps and classes for curious and inquisitive girls. These female-powered programs expose young girls to diy classes in science, design, and engineering.
Attendees can take a wide range of classes, including printmaking, coding, weaving, graffiti art, robotics, and more. By providing a safe and supportive atmosphere for playing and learning, Curious Jane aspires to give girls the confidence to pursue STEM careers.
Mechanical engineer Jenny Young founded the Brooklyn Robot Foundry to give children a chance to expand their world through STEM education. Inspired by her own childhood of hands-on creating, she places an emphasis on DIY robot creation that allows students to play and explore.
By teaching students how to have fun when building robots, programs at the Brooklyn Robot Foundry also highlight the engineering behind how these creations work. Young is also a mother and a former technology consultant who believes in the power of bringing engineering to children of all backgrounds.
Brian Ferrara is a STEM and robotics teacher based in Hauppauge, NY. He teaches both STEM and mathematics education as part of the STEM initiative at Hauppauge Middle School. Here, he’s in charge of helping his students explore new robotics technology while also showing them how it’s changing the world, both now and in the future.
By using robots to teach technology, Ferrara has the opportunity to teach students not only about robots, but how they apply to math and logic. Fusing practical mathematical thinking with the futuristic technology of robots makes Ferrara’s curriculums cutting edge.
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