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Bronx Community College Summer STEP

Summer 2013 @ Bronx Community College

Students were introduced to the Center for Sustainability and the on-campus solar lab with instructor Kim Curran. They learned sun patterns affect the world differently—more sunlight is available longer near the equator and during the summer. They learned how to use solar pathfinders to identify the best placement for solar panels.

The summer of 2013 was a two pronged scientific exploration. One of the foci of this summer’s STEP program was “Sustainable Energy.” The students began by exploring the concepts of sustainability, to understand the personal and global need for sustainable energy. We also took time to explore the definition of energy, from the tangible to theoretical. We introduced the basic science behind the carbon cycle and fossil fuel consumption. They identified the primary sources for energy in our current system—coal, oil, and natural gas, explored how the use of these fuels is contributing to climate change through the destruction of the Ozone. The students charted the concept of Peak Oil, and learned about current renewable energy options, including solar, hydro, wind, biodiesel and geothermal.

At the root of all of these patterns is energy, and the goal was to personalize our understanding of energy consumption, not leave it in realm of adults and policy makers.

Digging even deeper into the concepts of recycling, students were introduced to the idea of recycling used cooking oil to replace the use of fossil fuels in heating and powering vehicles. They visited TriState Biodiesel and received an orientation to the business, from recruiting restaurants to participate, generating sales to local buildings and truck companies, the trucks that are used to collect the vegetable oil, the vats that are used to store them, and the process of filtering and purifying for effective reuse. Students learned that the City is currently requiring heating fuel to have a 2% biodiesel content, but that even cold climates like NYC can replace petro-heating oil with up to 80% biodiesel.

At the root of all of these patterns is energy, and the goal was to personalize our understanding of energy consumption, not leave it in realm of adults and policy makers. Students learned to do a cost-benefit analysis of personal choices, including externalities not always included in the cost of a product. Students did a role play as a business person tasked with making decisions about the disposal of toxic byproducts from their business, identifying the costs accrued by the community and the earth that may not be reflected in a simple analysis of material costs. Finally the concept of Environmental Justice, and the current inequality in access to natural resources and environmental protection were explored, particularly in reference to the Bronx, race and class.

BCC STEP Bioinformatics Summer 2013 Workshop
The 2013 summer bioinformatics workshop for STEP students was conducted at Bronx Community College (BCC) by Dr. T. Brennan and Ms. N. Roman in collaboration with the Harlem Children Society. Twenty-four high school students completed the six week workshop which incorporates research-based curriculum materials developed by the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS: The high school students are introduced to major concepts related to genetic variation. This Human Genetics Variation module focuses on current progress in analyzing human genetic variation and the impact of that analysis on individuals and society. After completing the lessons of this module, students are prepared to take the lessons in the Bioinformatics module, which demonstrates how computers can be used to extract useful information from the sequence data of the billions of base pairs of DNA for the human genome. The BSCS modules are computer interactive and designed to engage students through inquiry-based activities. Following completion of the two modules student workshop participants chose research topics related to genetic based diseases and prepare research papers, PowerPoint presentations, and project posters. Several BCC science majors with good computer skills and experienced as tutors and research assistants were enlisted to serve as workshop leaders. They assist in the preparation of workshop materials, laboratory setup, and presentations, and help students with computer applications and report and poster preparations.

Source: Bronx Community College STEP


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