Virtual Black Families Technology Awareness Day 2022

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February 12, 2022

This year marks the 23rd anniversary of the Rensselaer Black Families Technology Awareness Day (BFTAD). 

All K-12 students and their families - from the Capital Region, across New York and the United States, and across the world - are invited to attend to learn about the world-changing potential of STEM.

The day will kick-off with a welcome and address from the Honorable Shirley Ann Jackson, 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and remarks by Congressman Paul Tonko and Troy Mayor Patrick Madden. Remarks will be followed by a variety of programs in which participants will:

  • Engage in immersive STEM activities, led by Rensselaer students, appropriate for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12.
  • Learn how to prepare for college and learn about career opportunities in STEM fields with Rensselaer students and faculty.
  • Attend panel discussions to hear firsthand from Rensselaer students who are pursuing a career in STEM.

Events will take place between noon and 4 p.m. EST. Program details below. All participants who register and attend will receive an event T-shirt.

Questions about the day should be emailed to bftad@rpi.edu.

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2022 Program Offerings

Grades K-2

It is recommended that parents accompany students to these programs:

How Can We Clean Our Muddy Water?

Program Facilitator: Engineering Ambassadors

The Engineering Ambassadors will talk about the importance of clean drinking water around the world and about nature’s filtering process. Students will be taught to use the engineering design process to create and build their own water filter using items around the house. Once built, students will test their filter using a variety of substances to see how it performs and discuss how any improvements might be made. A supply list will be provided in advance so students can prepare and the help of a parent or guardian is advised.

 

Designing Your Dream Car

Program Facilitator: Society of Women Engineers (SWE)

Using a simplified design process, students will brainstorm what they would want from a car and what works or doesn't work for cars they've seen. Then, students will start by making a detailed sketch of their ideas. After this, students will be introduced to a few simple systems to see if they can use them to create a rolling car out of materials commonly found around the house. Lastly, if time permits, SWE will talk a bit about manufacturing and have a small manufacturing puzzle for students to try.

Grades 3-5

It is recommended that parents accompany students to these programs:

The Nose Knows

Program Facilitator: Science Ambassadors

This presentation introduces students to the concept that our sense of smell is strongly connected to our memory. Students will learn about how patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease are undergoing memory retrieval using smell tests that jog their memories. Students will be asked to collect “smelly” items around their house, share what memories are associated with them, and design a smell test for Alzheimer’s patients.

 

Designing Your Dream Car

Program Facilitator: Society of Women Engineers (SWE)

Using a simplified design process, students will brainstorm what they would want from a car and what works or doesn't work for cars they've seen. Then, students will start by making a detailed sketch of their ideas. After this, students will be introduced to a few simple systems to see if they can use them to create a rolling car out of materials commonly found around the house. Lastly, if time permits, SWE will talk a bit about manufacturing and have a small manufacturing puzzle for students to try.

 

Escape the Maze

Program Facilitator: Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers

This activity will introduce students to programming and some basic core concepts programmers often use. Students will then be able to apply what they’ve learned as they attempt to escape a maze and draw pictures with Turtle graphics using block coding.

Grades 6-8

Astrobotany*

Program Facilitator: Art Technically

Plants are very important to life on Earth. They provide us with food and clean air, and being around plants can make us feel happier! For these same reasons, scientists want to learn how to grow plants in space for astronauts. In this session, students will learn about astrobotany, or the study of plants in space, through hands-on activities exploring biology, physics, and space science. They will also attend a virtual tour of the plant labs at the Center for Lighting Enabled Systems and Applications (LESA) at Rensselaer.

*This session is limited to 12 participants.

 

Love Letters: Creative Coding for Valentine’s Day

Program Facilitator: Art Technically

Learn to code a Valentine’s Day card! Meet and make Valentine’s Day cards with five young Black scientists and engineers using an art-based coding platform. Students will code Valentine’s Day cards for friends, family, and local Meals on Wheels programs through Art Technically’s seventh annual Love Letters project. They will learn some basic coding skills while meeting with inspiring young people working in technology, business, and health care. Plus, students can brighten a senior’s Valentine’s Day with their coded art!

 

Alka-Seltzer Lava Lamps

Program Facilitator: National Society of Black Engineers

Students will explore the science of chemistry as they create their very own non-electric lava lamps. By combining a few simple ingredients, carbon dioxide can be produced in a way that resembles the lava found in lava lamps from the 1960s. Students will also experiment with the impact of different temperatures on these ingredients and chemical reactions in general. Proper disposal of ingredients will also be discussed.

 

Ways STEM Affects Our Lives

Program Facilitator: National Society of Black Engineers

Engineering students will describe the many ways STEM impacts everyone’s day-to-day lives. This panel will cover the various applications of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)— disciplines that make our lives easier, safer, and more enjoyable. Panelists will talk about the ways they plan to apply their studies to real-world issues and how they decided on these goals. There will be a Q&A session at the end.

 

Gravity and the Universe

Program Facilitator: Science Ambassadors

This presentation explains the importance of gravity in holding our solar system together and the basic principles of gravitational forces. Students will be shown simulations of stars and galaxies.

 

The Science Behind Sanitizer

Program Facilitator: Rensselaer Chemistry Society

Students will learn how surfaces are disinfected using UV light, soap, hand sanitizer, and other substances. Then, they will learn how to make their own sanitizer at home with isopropyl alcohol, water, and other optional materials like essential oils, aloe, and food coloring. They will learn how chemistry plays a daily role around the house and see a demonstration of other simple and fun chemistry experiments, like the potato battery, which can be conducted right at home!

 

Egg Drop Leadership

Program Facilitator: Leadership Educators Advising Peers (LEAP)

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an engineer? To be able to create whatever pops into your mind? To work on the closest thing to real magic? This session will cover the steps engineers take to turn their ideas into reality. Students will imagine they are engineers tasked with the job of protecting an egg. They will need to build a device to protect the egg during a fall. Students will be presented with the choice of working in a team or individually. The students who work together will be put into teams and given time to come up with a solution to the problem. The students who work alone will each come up with their own solution. The goal of this activity is for students to gain insight into what it’s like to be an engineer and to understand the way engineers think. By walking them through these steps, students will gain a better understanding of engineering while having fun!

 

Build and IoT Monitoring System for Your Smart Home

Program Facilitator: Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE)

Students will learn how the internet of things (IoT) technology has been applied in our life and its basic principles. Using the principles, participants will then be able to build their own system that monitors indoor air quality and thermal comfort, and pushes notifications on their phones if its value exceeds a pre-specified threshold. Finally, several research projects from CASE will be introduced, demonstrating how the IoT technology can be applied to improve our built environment.

 

Fold and Fly

Program Facilitator: Coding&&Community

This workshop is designed to introduce algorithms and their importance in computer science. Students will learn about algorithms by arranging the different steps involved in making and flying a paper airplane. Planes will be designed to fly the farthest, carry a payload (a coin) the farthest, or stay in the air the longest. Students will then discuss the ideal steps to meet each challenge and how these algorithms apply to computer science and everyday life.

Grades 9-12

The Molecules of Extreme Life

Program Facilitator: Department of Biological Sciences

Rensselaer graduate students will demonstrate the molecular differences between proteins of organisms that live in extreme environments (in the Earth's crust; in the cold, deep ocean; in hot springs; and at hydrothermal vents). PyMOL — a molecular graphics tool — will be used to visualize the proteins and their differences, and will show participants how proteins are put together and how big they are. This program is important for any student who is interested in any of the biological sciences and is considering pursuing a science or medical degree in college.

 

Journey to Your STEM Career

Program Facilitator: Engineering Ambassadors

The Rensselaer Engineering Ambassadors will conduct a panel discussion to share their backgrounds and their personal interests in STEM and other fields. Participants will learn how the students chose their majors, what careers they are pursuing, and challenges they may have faced along the way. The program will culminate with the opportunity for participants to ask questions of the Rensselaer students.

 

Ways STEM Affects Our Lives

Program Facilitator: National Society of Black Engineers

Engineering students will describe the many ways STEM impacts everyone’s day-to-day lives. This panel will cover the various applications of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)— disciplines that make our lives easier, safer, and more enjoyable. Panelists will talk about the ways they plan to apply their studies to real-world issues and how they decided on these goals. There will be a Q&A session at the end.

 

Pilot Your Passion

Program Facilitator: Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship

Did you know that the entrepreneurial skills needed for building a business are also valuable in choosing a STEM career? This interactive activity is designed to help students identify what they want to do in life and the impact they want to make. Students will work to identify their interests and skills, and then identify their passion. After identifying the impact they would like to make on the world, students will craft their purpose and/or goals. That purpose could be developed into a business or it could help students identify a career path or area of study.

 

Opportunities in Nuclear: Demystifying the Science

Program Facilitator: Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering

Have you ever considered pursuing nuclear physics at a world-class research facility? Come join a current Ph.D. candidate and GEM fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory to gain insight into research and development opportunities. This session consists of a series of hands-on learning modules that will leave participants with a better understanding of the physical world around us! This interactive program is designed to give participants an intuitive understanding of nuclear physics concepts typically learned at the junior level in college. A degree in nuclear science is not required to understand these concepts, but the information gained in this session could help participants decide if earning a degree in nuclear engineering is right for them. 

 

Computer 3D Modeling

Program Facilitator: Alpha Phi Alpha

Participants will learn how 3D computer modeling is used in engineering. Members of Alpha Phi Alpha will assist students in making their own 3D structure using TinkerCad, a free online modeling tool. This session’s goal is to provide students with the foundational skills for innovation. Alpha Phi Alpha is all about innovation and is the first intercollegiate Greek-letter fraternity established for African American men.

 

Scratching the Surface of STEM

Program Facilitator: Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA)

The BGSA will “scratch the surface” of STEM, and talk about some of the skills needed for success in careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The presenters will share some of their personal experiences and answer questions from participants. They will also introduce Scratch, a K-12 entry-level computer programming software, to demonstrate the applications of computer programming, an increasingly important essential skill needed in STEM careers.

 

Egg Drop Leadership

Program Facilitator: Leadership Educators Advising Peers (LEAP)

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an engineer? To be able to create whatever pops into your mind? To work on the closest thing to real magic? This session will cover the steps engineers take to turn their ideas into reality. Students will imagine they are engineers tasked with the job of protecting an egg. They will need to build a device to protect the egg during a fall. Students will be presented with the choice of working in a team or individually. The students who work together will be put into teams and given time to come up with a solution to the problem. The students who work alone will each come up with their own solution. The goal of this activity is for students to gain insight into what it’s like to be an engineer and to understand the way engineers think. By walking them through these steps, students will gain a better understanding of engineering while having fun!

 

Rensselaer College-Bound Pathways

Program Facilitator: Rensselaer Rocket Society

Many pathways lead to college! Members of the Rensselaer Rocket Society would like to help students prepare for “takeoff and landing” by highlighting the diverse pathways its members have taken before being accepted for admission to Rensselaer. The students will talk about their personal backgrounds and experiences in both STEM and non-STEM pursuits that contributed to their success at Rensselaer.

 

Build an IoT Monitoring System for Your Smart Home

Program Facilitator: Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE)

Students will learn how the internet of things (IoT) technology has been applied in our life and its basic principles. Using the principles, participants will then be able to build their own system that monitors indoor air quality and thermal comfort, and pushes notifications on their phones if its value exceeds a pre-specified threshold. Finally, several research projects from CASE will be introduced, demonstrating how the IoT technology can be applied to improve our built environment.

 

What Can I Do With a STEM Degree?

Program Facilitator: Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) Graduate and Post-Doctoral Association

CBIS will host a panel with graduate students in several disciplines related to STEM (biology, biomedical engineering, chemistry, computer science, material science, etc.). Panelists will discuss their journey through school and their future career goals and plans. The session will also briefly introduce what each graduate student does in their research and highlight career opportunities in each field. An open panel at the end of the presentation will facilitate questions from the audience.

 

How Engineers Build Bridges

Program Facilitator: Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers

In this activity, students will learn about the fundamentals of building a bridge and how civil engineers make sure they are functional and safe for public use. Students will then be able to build their own bridges in an online simulation and test their efficiency in supporting cars and trucks that may pass over it. Participants will be asked to download free software prior to the start of the session.

 

Fold and Fly

Program Facilitator: Coding&&Community

This workshop is designed to introduce algorithms and their importance in computer science. Students will learn about algorithms by arranging the different steps involved in making and flying a paper airplane. Planes will be designed to fly the farthest, carry a payload (a coin) the farthest, or stay in the air the longest. Students will then discuss the ideal steps to meet each challenge and how these algorithms apply to computer science and everyday life.

Program Recommendations for Parents

Parents will find the following programs insightful:

Journey to Your STEM Career

Program Facilitator: Engineering Ambassadors

The Rensselaer Engineering Ambassadors will conduct a panel discussion to share their backgrounds and their personal interests in STEM and other fields. Participants will learn how the students chose their majors, what careers they are pursuing, and challenges they may have faced along the way. The program will culminate with the opportunity for participants to ask questions of the Rensselaer students.

 

Ways STEM Affects Our Lives

Program Facilitator: National Society of Black Engineers

Engineering students will describe the many ways STEM impacts everyone’s day-to-day lives. This panel will cover the various applications of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)— disciplines that make our lives easier, safer, and more enjoyable. Panelists will talk about the ways they plan to apply their studies to real-world issues and how they decided on these goals. There will be a Q&A session at the end.

 

Pilot Your Passion

Program Facilitator: Severino Center for Technological Entrepreneurship

Did you know that the entrepreneurial skills needed for building a business are also valuable in choosing a STEM career? This interactive activity is designed to help students identify what they want to do in life and the impact they want to make. Students will work to identify their interests and skills, and then identify their passion. After identifying the impact they would like to make on the world, students will craft their purpose and/or goals. That purpose could be developed into a business or it could help students identify a career path or area of study.

 

Opportunities in Nuclear: Demystifying the Science

Program Facilitator: Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering

Have you ever considered pursuing nuclear physics at a world-class research facility? Come join a current Ph.D. candidate and GEM fellow at Los Alamos National Laboratory to gain insight into research and development opportunities. This session consists of a series of hands-on learning modules that will leave participants with a better understanding of the physical world around us! This interactive program is designed to give participants an intuitive understanding of nuclear physics concepts typically learned at the junior level in college. A degree in nuclear science is not required to understand these concepts, but the information gained in this session could help participants decide if earning a degree in nuclear engineering is right for them. 

 

Scratching the Surface of STEM

Program Facilitator: Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA)

The BGSA will “scratch the surface” of STEM, and talk about some of the skills needed for success in careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The presenters will share some of their personal experiences and answer questions from participants. They will also introduce Scratch, a K-12 entry-level computer programming software, to demonstrate the applications of computer programming, an increasingly important essential skill needed in STEM careers.

 

Rensselaer College-Bound Pathways

Program Facilitator: Rensselaer Rocket Society

Many pathways lead to college! Members of the Rensselaer Rocket Society would like to help students prepare for “takeoff and landing” by highlighting the diverse pathways its members have taken before being accepted for admission to Rensselaer. The students will talk about their personal backgrounds and experiences in both STEM and non-STEM pursuits that contributed to their success at Rensselaer.

 

Build an IoT Monitoring System for Your Smart Home

Program Facilitator: Center for Architecture Science and Ecology (CASE)

Students will learn how the internet of things (IoT) technology has been applied in our life and its basic principles. Using the principles, participants will then be able to build their own system that monitors indoor air quality and thermal comfort, and pushes notifications on their phones if its value exceeds a pre-specified threshold. Finally, several research projects from CASE will be introduced, demonstrating how the IoT technology can be applied to improve our built environment.

 

What Can I Do With a STEM Degree?

Program Facilitator: Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) Graduate and Post-Doctoral Association

CBIS will host a panel with graduate students in several disciplines related to STEM (biology, biomedical engineering, chemistry, computer science, material science, etc.). Panelists will discuss their journey through school and their future career goals and plans. The session will also briefly introduce what each graduate student does in their research and highlight career opportunities in each field. An open panel at the end of the presentation will facilitate questions from the audience.

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Information for Participants, Volunteers & Sponsors

REGISTER TO PARTICIPATE

BFTAD will occur on Feb. 12, 2022, and will take place between noon and 4 p.m. EST.

Registration is a three-step process:

(1) REGISTER NOW to attend.

(2) SIGN UP FOR ACTIVITIES: Once you are registered to attend, you will soon receive an email notification to sign up for specific programs and activities.  

(3) By February 10, you will be sent a reminder notice and link(s) for the programs and activities for which you registered. Those who register after February 10 will be sent their links by the morning of the event. 

Registration will continue until the start of the event.

 

 

INFORMATION FOR PRESENTERS

Request for 2022 Program Proposals

We are now accepting proposals for BFTAD 2022, from faculty, student groups, and alumni to conduct virtual programming that will inform and excite young people about science, technology, engineering, and math, as well as the arts.

Programs should fall into one of the following categories:

  • Hands-on STEM activities with items that are commonly found in homes
    • Grades K-2
    • Grades 3-5
    • Grades 6-8
    • Grades 10-12
  • Lecture and interactive programs, including panel discussions on college preparedness and on STEM careers
    • Grades 10-12
    • Parents
  • Lectures on Rensselaer research (e.g., COVID-19, Jefferson Project, departmental research, etc.)
    • Grades 6-12
    • Parents

The programs should be up to 55 minutes in length. They will be offered between noon and 4 p.m., and you will be able to conduct more than one program if you are interested.

SUBMIT PROPOSALS HERE; they are due no later than Jan. 21, 2022.

Email bftad@rpi.edu with questions.

PROGRAM SPONSORS

Gold Level Sponsors

  • Flavours by Sodexo at Rensselaer

Silver Level Sponsors

Bronze Level Sponsors

  • Applied Biophysics
  • Campito Companies
  • Capital Bank, A Division of Chemung Canal Trust Company
  • Weston & Sampson PE, LS, LA, PC

For information on how you or your organization can become a sponsor of BFTAD, E-mail bftad@rpi.edu