Students and teachers present at PTA science panel

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The PTA hosted a science panel in January to inform parents about the many science courses, clubs, and teams offered at Townsend Harris. Assistant Principal of Math, Science, and Technology Susan Brunstein led the panel, with the assistance of the science department. Eight students spoke about their experiences taking science courses, focusing on their accomplishments and the information they learned. 

“We have students that are multi-talented and have lots of interests, and that is reflected in the courses we are able to offer our students,” said Ms. Brustein. “These are the courses we are proposing [and] offering this year…It is based on what the students want, and we do our best to satisfy their needs.”

Science teacher David Stern described the main aspects of his earth science course as having an emphasis on active learning. Most of the labs allow students to identify rocks and minerals, as well as the study of earthquakes, volcanoes and other landforms. “It’s a very hands-on class. Students do a lot of inquiry work and learn more about the planet,” said Mr. Stern.

Science teacher Katherine Cooper spoke about the three year biomedical science sequence she oversees, explaining that key aspects of this course include science research, genetics and many lab-based experiences with the use of micropipettes. Ms. Cooper also teaches the Biomedical and Ethics course, which develops public speaking skills and teaches students how to use scientific jargon in research. She mentioned that her classes “go beyond the AP course requirements.”

Senior Esther Chai spoke about her experience taking Science Research this year. Previously, she investigated a breast cancer activator at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center using gene editing. Esther described how it was necessary for her to read articles and academic journal articles independently to gain a strong foundation. This led to success at an internship at Stony Brook University, where she studied how different compounds affect gene differentiation. “Because of the class, I was able to learn more about science research, and I pursue this on my own in the summer,” explained Esther. 

Senior Carolina Narvaez spoke about her experiences taking CAD (Computer Aided Design) and Principles of Engineering, saying that she enjoyed learning about science applications and creating real world devices. “Unlike chemistry and physics, here you learn about real life practical and applied skills,” she said.

Junior Amar Maksumic and senior Shara Bhuiyan spoke passionately about their time on the robotics team, in which students can learn about mechanical design, programming, marketing, essay writing, and fundraising. Shara and Amar worked in CAD to build a racecar, using Computer Vision software to help write 10,000 lines of computer code that successfully gave the robot “vision,” which guided the robot towards white strips autonomously. Both used what they learned in AP Computer Science A and AP Physics to supplement their independent learning, and now each mentor 20 students on the robotics team and others in the community through the ESTEEM club.

The robotics team concluded the panel with a video showcasing the work they put into building one of their robots over the course of one week.

To hear a full recording of the science panel, click the link below:

Science panel full recording.m4a

Photo by Sharon Li.