Chancellor Klein encourages MIT Patnership with NYC Public Schools

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Joel Klein, Chancellor of Education, said, “I am very excited to see organizations such as the MIT Club support NYC public schools and look forward to ongoing collaborations between New Yorkers and our public school kids.” In the wake of September 11th, the outpouring of volunteers has been phenomenal-there is great interest in volunteering skills and knowledge rather than licking envelopes. Since September 2002, twenty-five MIT alumni in the NYC area have been mentoring the teams, made up of fourth to eighth grade students from NYC public schools. The MIT mentors are based at 7 sites across NYC, including three public schools and four Intel Computer Clubhouses.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Club of New York (NY) is proud to announce that all nine of the teams mentored by MIT alumni volunteers will participate in the Second Annual NYC FIRST LEGO League Tournament, to be held on February 8, 2003 at Riverbank State Park in Manhattan. FIRST LEGO League is an international competition organized by the nonprofit organization FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology).

Since September 2002, twenty-five MIT alumni in the NYC area have been mentoring the teams, made up of fourth to eighth grade students from NYC public schools. The MIT mentors are based at 7 sites across NYC, including three public schools and four Intel Computer Clubhouses.

These MIT mentors spend two to six hours a week guiding the student teams through the process of building and programming an autonomous robot. Using LEGO bricks, and other elements such as sensors, motors, and gears, teams gain hands-on experience in engineering, design, and computer programming fundamentals as they construct and program their unique robot inventions.

Joel Klein, Chancellor of Education, said, “I am very excited to see organizations such as the MIT Club support NYC public schools and look forward to ongoing collaborations between New Yorkers and our public school kids.”

In the wake of September 11th, the outpouring of volunteers has been phenomenal-there is great interest in volunteering skills and knowledge rather than licking envelopes. This new surge in “volunteerism” encouraged the MIT Club of NY last year to team up with Hunter College Elementary School to set up an after school Lego Club for 4th to 8th graders. Sixteen MIT alumni (with graduation dates from the 1960’s to 2001) were involved in the program.

“I am delighted to have been part of the original force behind MIT’s outreach to NYC public schools, but none of this would have been possible without our wonderful and dedicated volunteers” Leslie Rahl, President of Capital Market Risk Advisors and a 1971 MIT graduate.

“This has been an amazing opportunity for MIT alumni to share their passion for science and technology with NYC public school students. Many of these volunteers have spent over 100 hours with their teams since late September, and they are committed to maintaining these relationships well beyond the February 8 competition,” says Stacy Nemeroff a 1997 MIT graduate who serves both as a mentor and as Director of Community Service for the MIT Club of NY.

Ms. Nemeroff also notes, “One of the biggest challenges in running a mentoring program, and perhaps the most critical factor to the success of such a program, is to provide the mentors with necessary support and guidance. Collaborating with FIRST, the Intel Computer Clubhouse Network, and NYC public schools helped provide an infrastructure and support structure for our mentors, while at the same time, offering the opportunity to contribute and strengthen the capacity of these organizations.”

This is the first year that the Intel Computer Clubhouses are being represented at the NYC competition. The Intel Computer Clubhouse Network is an initiative of the Intel Corporation and MIT Media Lab to provide technology and multi-media centers for children in inner city neighborhoods around the world. In 2001-02, four Intel Computer Clubhouses were opened in NYC, with two in Harlem, one in the Lower East Side, and another in Brownsville, Brooklyn. The February 8, 2003 tournament will be the first formal educational activity bringing together the students, Clubhouse Coordinators, and mentors from all four NYC Intel Computer Clubhouses.

"This has been a wonderful opportunity for Grand Street Settlement participants. The MIT mentors have really inspired and instilled a sense of pride and achievement in our youth," Brina Thurston, Grand Street Settlement Intel Computer Clubhouse Coordinator.

“The dedication, the energy, and the creativity demonstrated by MIT Club members working with FIRST LEGO League teams here in the City is a powerful example of why New York City is such a great community. We are proud and grateful to have them as partners,” Randy Schaeffer, Co-Director of NYC FIRST and co-organizer of the February 8, 2003 Competition.

"You get to develop rewarding relationships with some truly terrific and heroic teachers and counselors. Just as the students form their own teams, mentors and teachers/counselors become a team, cooperating with each other and supporting each other in the pursuit of a noble common goal: education that's FUN!" Whitney Anne Postman, mentor and 1992 MIT graduate.

This year’s program represents an expansion of the “MIT Partnership with NYC Public Schools,” which was started in the Fall of 2001 as a collaboration between the MIT Club of NY and three NYC public schools. Working together with the NYC Department of Education, FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), and Intel Computer Clubhouse, the “MIT Partnership with NYC Public Schools” has grown in the 2002-03 academic year to include the four NYC Intel Computer Clubhouses and one additional public school. For the 2002-03 school year, the “MIT Partnership with NYC Public Schools” also includes a Community Planning Program for 7th graders at I.S. 71 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

For more information about MIT Club of NY’s innovative educational partnerships, please contact Stacy Nemeroff ’97 (snemeroff@alum.mit.edu or +1-917-921-9936), Director of Community Service, MIT Club of NY, or visit our website http://www.mitnycschools.com.

For more information about the Intel Computer Clubhouse initiative please refer to http://www.computerclubhouse.org or contact Rhonda de Castro at hu1991@hotmail.com or +1-212-491-5280 ext. 226.

For more information about NYC FIRST, please refer to http://www.usfirst.org or contact Randy Schaeffer at randyschaeffer@worldnet.att.net or +1-718-260-3383.

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Leslie Rahl

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