Rye Neck Middle School is offering an extracurricular program that gets kids thinking about the future of their surroundings.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
Rye Neck Middle School is offering an extracurricular program that gets kids thinking about the future of their surroundings. Under the District’s Enrichment Program, “Future Cities” is a design-and-build-maker project that urges students to recognize how much innovation, design, and technology are driven by human need in growing urban settings.
“The rationale behind the program lies in the fact that by the middle of this century, the population on Earth will exceed nine billion people,” explained Enrichment Coordinator Valerie Feit, who developed the program. “Design technologies that address the needs of the millions of people who live in burgeoning urban communities will become an increasingly important focus for scientists, social scientists, engineers, environmentalists, and artists in the coming years.”
Participants in grades 6-8 meet once a week after school in a classroom setting that fosters brainstorming, originality, creativity, invention, and productivity. The students are asked to observe a human activity, formulate a problem, and find solutions. Presiding over the students, in addition to Feit, are Mario Turriago, an intern pursuing a graduate degree in secondary education for earth science and chemistry and a parent volunteer Katherine Chaffin, who brings her expertise with Lego robots.
Indeed, the fun, interactive curriculum includes Lego and City Build challenges, two- and three-dimensional precision projects, and trademark drawing. One afternoon, students all put their heads together to make walking robots as each student wired a toothbrush, and connected it to a 9-volt battery and a resistor.
Future Cities will also expose students to visiting experts in the fields of architecture, city planning, electronics, engineering, psychology, environmental science, physics, and art. Feit intends to collaborate with organizations such as the Earth Institute to make strides on urbanization issues.
“In the bigger picture, I hope Future Cities feeds the students’ curiosity and interests and opens them up to future STEAM programs,” noted Feit.