May 19, 2024
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RKYHS Students Showcase Impressive Research at Evening of STEM

Since launching the RKYHS STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program five years ago, it has grown exponentially under the exceptional educational leadership of Dr. Steven Stein.

Students are enthusiastic about the “learning science by doing science” approach and are engaged in original research and work at the forefront of a variety of different disciplines. “It is exciting to see the students understand the underlying science in a deep and meaningful way, while also learning the methodology involved in working on a significant problem that they’ve identified,” said Dr. Stein.

Beryl Artman, a 12th grader and STEM lab teaching assistant at RKYHS who was selected as a Waksman student Scholar by the Waksman Institute at Rutgers University, is thankful that “The STEM program has taught me how to think outside the box and come up with my own novel solutions, which is crucial to be a successful engineer and problem-solver.”

In addition to teaching the students problem-solving and critical thinking skills, Dr. Stein focuses on training the students to write effectively and present their findings in front of varied audiences. Last week, a select group of RKYHS STEM students presented mid-year progress reports of their cutting-edge research projects at a special Evening of STEM for supporters of the RKYHS STEM program.

The student presenters at the Evening of STEM were Beryl Artman (“PCRduino”—a Novel Microcontroller-Based Thermocycler for PCR Amplification of DNA), Emily Gruber (‘AED on the Go”—A Pocket Ultra-Portable, Ultra-Affordable, Single Use Automatic External Electronic Defibrillator) and Becky Weisberg (Identifying CTLA-4 Polymorphisms in Autoimmune Disease).

“I’m so proud of these students who presented at the Evening of STEM. But, it’s especially noteworthy that we have not just these three…but dozens of students who are ready to present the moment someone asks them, ‘What’s your project?’” stated Dr. Stein. “It’s gratifying to see the enthusiasm and excitement from the students who wholly take ownership of their respective projects and truly become experts on their chosen topics. It’s an approach that will serve them well in the future whether they go into science, engineering or any other field.”

The RKYHS STEM program has a tremendous impact on participating students. RKYHS 12th grader Becky Weisberg, who is also a former Waksman Student Scholar, shared that “the RKYHS STEM program is unlike any other because it is truly limitless. Whatever you want to study, however you want to study it, you will be provided with the resources and guidance to do so. There is no project too large, too advanced or too difficult.”

Emily Gruber, an RKYHS senior who was selected by the Technion Israel Institute of Technology to participate in their SciTech Training Program and won first place in the SciTech 2017 Science Presentation Competition, appreciates that she has been given the confidence to think big. “The projects and independent research that I’ve seen my friends pursue are unbelievable. Almost half of the kids in my bioengineering class are sequencing and analyzing DNA for their own research—now that’s hands on!” exclaimed Emily. “…The STEM program has empowered me to embark on my interests and has also demonstrated to me that there are no limits to my mind or to what I can do. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store.”

RKYHS students excel in prestigious research programs, and then return to RKYHS to bring back what they learned and mentor fellow students. The program is modeled as a research institute, in that research projects continue after students graduate, and their work is carried on by other students.

Each student is addressing relevant and current scientific challenges, and their research has the potential to make a real impact on the scientific community. “We’ve put our students in a position to realize that they can not only begin to understand the way our world works, but begin to improve it,” said Dr. Stein. “This is something that doesn’t need to wait for college or graduate school or ‘someday’ in the future when they ‘grow up.’ They can start having a real impact now.”

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