Every Saturday, students from Schenectady schools are learning about areas related to STEM, from forensics and the science behind color and light to immunology and the physics of flight. Now, more than 60 students in the innovative Rise High Program are discovering the many aspects of science, technology, engineering, and math at SUNY Schenectady’s second floor Center City location.
Since the beginning of Rise High in 2017, SUNY Schenectady has been an instrumental partner in the program that was initiated by Dr. Mark Little, retired GE Global Research Center (GRC) Executive; his wife Terri Little, a former teacher and community volunteer; and Dr. Omayra Padilla De Jesús, who was a Senior Scientist at GRC. Other partners include Clarkson University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Schenectady city schools. With the move to SUNY Schenectady’s Center City location, Rise High now has a consolidated space that can accommodate the growing program, through use of classrooms and meeting space. It also simplifies the programmatic logistics that serve more than 60 students and leverages more than 20 volunteers every week.
“Rise High is a transformational program that can spark a lifelong passion for science in Schenectady’s middle school and high school students, and we are so honored to facilitate this learning by providing a space for students to flourish in their love for science,” said Dr. Steady Moono, President of SUNY Schenectady. “Knowing that every Saturday they will be at our Center City site, discovering how science shapes their world now, and how they can become involved in STEM careers in the future, is very special to all of us at SUNY Schenectady.”
Students began at the SUNY Schenectady Center City location in January 2020. Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders from Central Park Middle School, Mont Pleasant Middle School, Oneida Middle School, and Solid Ground Christian Academy, join program leaders and mentors. They explore a different area of science and technology each session throughout the school year, and are presented with a challenge each time to help develop critical thinking and problem solving skills. Experts from industry and academia are invited to speak to students showing them real-world applications of their topics, but their presentations are brief so that students can delve in through hands-on activities in areas including robotics, weather and climate, nutrition, the science behind music, and much more.
“We are thrilled with the development of Rise High,” Dr. Little said. “The community of students, parents, teachers, mentors, advisors, and university partners is fantastic. We are especially grateful to SUNY Schenectady for providing a wonderful space to offer Rise High to even more Schenectady youth.”
“SUNY Schenectady’s Center City location is the perfect place to host Rise High, which gives Schenectady’s students an opportunity to expand their access to STEM-related learning and other skills training that will help them succeed today and in the future,” said Anthony Jasenski, Chair of the Schenectady County Legislature. “Dr. Moono and the team at SUNY Schenectady have done a great job partnering with other groups and institutions to benefit students and the community.”
Students are selected for Rise High based on an application and a letter of recommendation. The program is funded by the Little Family Foundation and is free for students.