Students from Gowanda and Salamanca central school districts spent a recent Saturday (March 12) participating in the Science and Technology Entry Program’s (STEP) Activity Day held in the science and technology classrooms at Gowanda High. Four immersive, hands-on sessions on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) were the focus of the day for more than a dozen students who gathered on a weekend for this educational experience.
STEP is a science and mathematics enrichment initiative of The New York State Education Department. The program is hosted by The State University of New York at Fredonia under the leadership of Dr. Michael Jabot and Mrs. Danielle O’Connor. Its purpose is to increase the number of underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students prepared to enter college. It aims to improve their participation rate in math, science, technology, health-related fields, and licensed professions. STEP’s student readiness improvement projects take place year-round, with summer engagement a key component. It emphasizes core subject instruction and exam preparation through supervised laboratory and research training, college admissions counseling, as well as career awareness and development activities.
Activity Day was made possible with the collaboration with Gowanda chemistry teacher Emma Relosky and math teacher Jim Reeves along with Salamanca teacher Aaron Straus, and Susan Schnaufer.
Following breakfast and introductions, the students watched demonstrations before rotating through four sessions:
¯ Relosky, who is also the Science Department chair and senior class co-advisor, led the students in a hallway session titled Analysis of Student Videos with LoggerPro. They recorded themselves playfully kicking a small toy hedgehog down the corridor then using the software application to collate data and gauge readings.
¯ In the Computer Programming with Java session with Mr. Reeves, they discussed the application program, structures, and encryption.
¯ Over in the Multiple Sensor Try-Out Stations session with Mr. Zach Izard, they explored heating and cooling methods.
¯ During the Chemistry / Biology Lab with Sensors with Ms. Ebersole, the students donned safety goggles to work with acids and bases.
In between sessions, the students enjoyed lunch and were gifted with STEP program T-shirts from SUNY Fredonia.
Feedback is an essential component of the STEP initiative and participants are encouraged to ask questions. The students ended the day with a short survey assessing what they learned. Students were asked for their thoughts on what could have made the activity day better and if they’d be interested in attending future events. Plans for future STEP events include attending the Manufacturing STEM Fair hosted by Dream It Do It and participation in the STEP Summer Program hosted by E2CCB and P-TECH at their campuses in Dunkirk and Springville.