First NSSA Stem Program

NSSA at Mt. Vernon
Summer STEM Camp Program 2014

Science, mathematics and engineering are critical to society’s infrastructure for the 21st century and preserving that future requires an investment in our youth today. Studies have shown that the United States will face a critical shortage of engineers, scientists and other technically trained workers in the near future. To help address the city of Mount Vernon’s math and science crisis as evidenced by recent test scores provided below, the NSSA at Mt. Vernon is committed to creating an informal science and technology center that will have a transformation impact on the 9,000 children attending public schools annually. As reflected in the chart below, our children are falling behind at an alarming rate and intervention is essential for them to have opportunities to participate in the global village that demands STEM related skills. The center will partner with local school leadership, SUNY, CUNY and other institutions of higher learning to increase access, exposure and inspire STEM learning. As we continue our efforts to fund and build the state-of-art technology center and consistent with our mission, the NSSA will provide a “proof of concept” summer program focused on a small subsection of the student population.

The NSSA at Mt. Vernon Summer Program will provide activities, experiments, projects, and field experiences for students entering 8th grade in the fall of 2014. The program promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and will address our historically underserved and underrepresented students with limited opportunities. Students will attend the camp free of charge. Students currently in grade 7 who have an interest in science and mathematics, at least an 80 average in science and mathematics courses and a passing score on the state’s standardized English Language Arts and mathematics tests are eligible to apply.

The NSSA Summer STEM Camp is a two-week, academic program that emphasizes increasing students’ mathematics and science knowledge and skills stimulating their interest in STEM as a potential career path. Students will attend classes that include problem solving, research, critical thinking and communication skills incorporated into biology (genomics), chemistry, physics, environmental sciences, earth sciences, engineering, technology (robotics) and design concepts, and go on field excursions.

This NSSA summer program theme: “Amazing Science and Technology Exploration”.  During camp students will primarily learn about Genomics and Robotics along with a science and math class to help them prepare for what they will encounter in the eighth grade.

The NSSA is open to the following groups:
• Historically underserved and underrepresented students with limited opportunities
• Students in grade 7 that are interested in science and mathematics
• Students with at least an 80 average in science and mathematics
• Students with at least a passing score on state standardized tests in English Language Arts and mathematics
Session topics and activities include:
• Examination of various disease genomes
• Genetic differences among individuals that influence how each person may respond uniquely to a particular disease
• Linear Equations & Functions
• Model Robot Project competition
• A preparation class centered on what the students can expect in their studies of science and math when they return to school in the eighth grade
The NSSA goals are to provide students with information and rich learning experiences regarding:
• Interdisciplinary nature of genomics and robotics
• What careers are possible with a degree in STEM
• What academic skills are necessary to succeed
• Preparation of Math and Science success in the eighth grade
The summer program curriculum, instruction, and assessment are tightly interwoven to support student learning and ensure students have equal access to a rigorous curriculum. To this end, the curriculum was designed to address the expectations of the New York State Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS).

Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS) – Mathematics
Expressions & Equations – 8.EE

Understand the connections between proportional relationships, lines, and linear equations.
5. Graph proportional relationships, interpreting the unit rate as the slope of the graph. Compare two different proportional relationships represented in different ways. For example, compare a distance-time graph to a distance-time equation to determine which of two moving objects has greater speed.
6. Use similar triangles to explain why the slope m is the same between any two distinct points on a non-vertical line in the coordinate plane; derive the equation y = mx for a line through the origin and the equation y = mx + b for a line intercepting the vertical axis at b.
Analyze and solve linear equations and pairs of simultaneous linear equations.
7. Solve linear equations in one variable.
a. Give examples of linear equations in one variable with one solution, infinitely many solutions, or no solutions. Show which of these possibilities is the case by successively transforming the given equation into simpler forms, until an equivalent equation of the form x = a, a = a, or a = b results (where a and b are different numbers).
b. Solve linear equations with rational number coefficients, including equations whose solutions require expanding expressions using the distributive property and collecting like terms.
8. Analyze and solve pairs of simultaneous linear equations.
a. Understand that solutions to a system of two linear equations in two variables correspond to points of intersection of their graphs, because points of intersection satisfy both equations simultaneously.
b. Solve systems of two linear equations in two variables algebraically, and estimate solutions by graphing the equations. Solve simple cases by inspection. For example, 3x + 2y = 5 and 3x + 2y = 6 have no solution because 3x + 2y cannot simultaneously be 5 and 6.
c. Solve real-world and mathematical problems leading to two linear equations in two variables. For example, given coordinates for two pairs of points, determine whether the line through the first pair of points intersects the line through the second pair.

New York State Science Standards
Unit: Properties of Matter

Standard 4: Physical Setting
Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.
Key Idea 3: Matter is made up of particles whose properties determine the observable characteristics of matter and its reactivity.
Objects in the universe are composed of matter. Matter is anything that takes up space and has mass. Matter is classified as a substance or a mixture of substances. Knowledge of the structure of matter is essential to students’ understanding of the living and physical environments. Matter is composed of elements which are made of small particles called atoms. All living and nonliving material is composed of these elements or combinations of these elements.
3.1: Observe and describe properties of materials, such as density, conductivity, and solubility.
3.1a Substances have characteristic properties. Some of these properties include color, odor, phase at room temperature, density, solubility, heat and electrical conductivity, hardness, and boiling and freezing points.
3.1b Solubility can be affected by temperature, surface area, stirring, and pressure.
3.1c The motion of particles helps to explain the phases (states) of matter as well as changes from one phase to another. The phase in which matter exists depends on the attractive forces among its particles.
3.1d Gases have neither a determined shape nor a definite volume. Gases assume the shape and volume of a closed container.
3.1e A liquid has definite volume, but takes the shape of a container.
3.1f A solid has definite shape and volume. Particles resist a change in position.
3.1g Characteristic properties can be used to identify different materials, and separate a mixture of substances into its components. For example, iron can be removed from a mixture by means of a magnet. An insoluble substance can be separated from a soluble substance by such processes as filtration, settling, and evaporation.
3.1h Density can be described as the amount of matter that is in a given amount of space. If two objects have equal volume, but one has more mass, the one with more mass is denser.
3.1i Buoyancy is determined by comparative densities.
Key Idea 4: Energy exists in many forms, and when these forms change energy is conserved.
Introduction: An underlying principle of all energy use is the Law of Conservation of Energy. Simply stated, energy cannot be created or destroyed. Energy can be transformed, one form to another. These transformations produce heat energy. Heat is a calculated value, which includes the temperature of the material, the mass of the material, and the type of the material. Temperature is a direct measurement of the average kinetic energy of the particles in a sample of material. It should be noted that temperature is not a measurement of heat.
4.2: Observe and describe heating and cooling events.
4.2c During a phase change, heat energy is absorbed or released. Energy is absorbed when a solid changes to a liquid and when a liquid changes to a gas. Energy is released when a gas changes to a liquid and when a liquid chances to a solid.
4.2d Most substances expand when heated and contract when cooled. Water is an exception, expanding when changing to ice.
4.2e Temperature affects the solubility of some substances in water.

The NSSA at Mt. Vernon for Advancement is an independent entity, approved 501(c)(3) being created in direct response to the many challenges and limitations that cannot be adequately addressed by our public school systems due to resource and budget constraints. In addition to being a destination location in Mount Vernon, the center plans to partner with public school leadership to ensure that our children have access to state-of-the art science and technology resources that complement the formal educational curriculum and prepare them for careers as teachers, scientists, computer technologists, doctors and engineers. Similar to other independent efforts in urban areas around the country, our center will have the potential to produce transformative change for our children and other critical aspects of the city, including cultural and economic change.

August 11, 2014 – August 22, 2014

Program Information:

The NSSA at Mt. Vernon Summer Program (MVTSYCA-SP) is organized to provide STEM related activities, experiments, projects, and exciting learning experiences for students entering 8th grade in the fall of 2014. The program promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and seeks to engage and support historically underserved and underrepresented students with limited opportunities. Students attend the two-week summer program free of charge. Students currently in grade 7 who have an interest in science and mathematics, at least an 80 average in science and mathematics courses and a passing score on the state’s standardized English Language Arts and mathematics tests are eligible to apply.

The NSSA is a two-week, academic program that emphasizes increasing students’ mathematics and science knowledge and skills stimulating their interest in STEM as a potential career path. Students will attend classes that include problem solving, research, critical thinking and communication skills incorporated into biology (genomics), chemistry, physics, environmental sciences, earth sciences, engineering, technology and design concepts, and go on field excursions. Certified secondary teachers, university faculty, and other professionals will serve as instructors. The camp will be held at one of the public-school buildings in Mount Vernon with easy access to all children in the city.

Application Process:
• Parent/Guardian and student complete requested information on the attached student application form (pages 2–7).
• Parent/Guardian or student gives the request for records to the student’s school registrar (page 5).
• Parent/Guardian or student gives a recommendation form to the student’s current science teacher (page 6) and current mathematics teacher (page 7).
• Student writes a 250-word essay. Instructions for the essay are at the bottom of page 3.

The Student Application Form, essay, records and recommendations are to be sent to: NSSA.

All requested documents are due by the deadline date, June 15, 2014. If all requested documents are not received by the deadline date, the application will not be considered. A committee will select the 25 student participants and 2 alternates on June 26, 2014. Students may be interviewed prior to being selected, if deemed necessary. You will receive notification on the status of the application no later than June 30, 2014. If selected, the student and one parent/guardian is required to attend an orientation. If you have questions or need additional information, call Gerald Dennis @ 914-652-7691 –


NSSA at Mt. Vernon


I pledge to always try my best,I pledge to listen to what others have to say,
I pledge to be respectful, responsible, and safe,
I pledge to respect the diversity of all people,
I pledge to treat others the way I would like to be treated,
I pledge to be respectful of others’ thoughts, opinions, and belongings,
I pledge to be responsible by being prepared, on time and present,
I pledge to study each evening and be at my best,
I pledge to do my share.
I will remember that I have people who care about me in my family, school and community.
Student Signature
Student Name-
Parent / Guardian Signature
Parent / Guardian Name-


Dr. Maria T. Rodolis

Dr. Rodolis is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Stony Brook University with interest in research and lecturing in an academic setting.

– PhD Chemical Biology (University of Warwick 2010-2013) “Interaction of Translocase MraY with the Antibacterial E protein from Bacteriophage ΦX174” Supervisor: Timothy D.H. Bugg
– B.S.c Chemistry & Biology 2010, 3.73/4 GPA (SUNY New Paltz, NY)
Awards/ Funding
-NSF- AGEP-T Frame, Postdoctoral funding
– PhD Scholarship: NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (2010-2013)
– Research Scholarship: Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training, Madrid
– Research Scholarship: Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, SUNY New Paltz
– Research Scholarship: NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates, Costa Rica
– New York State Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence, 2010
– SUNY New Paltz Outstanding Graduate Award in Chemistry, 2010
– Keynote speaker for the EOP biannual conference, 2014
– Keynote speaker for CSTEP Mid-Hudson Regional Conference, 2010
– AMP and CSTEP Annual “Outstanding Scholars Award” (2008 & 2010)
– SMART Grant (2008, 2009, 2010)
– Kurt Haas Memorial Scholarship (2009-2010)
– Percy Sutton Award for highest GPA among the EOP graduates, 2010
– SUNY New Paltz Dean’s List (2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)

Dr. Pamela Davis

An accomplished educator with a balance of education and experience in instructional technology with students from Kindergarten to graduate school. Her professional expertise is in the field of computer literacy with an emphasis on technology integration into existing curriculum. She excels at developing student centered learning environments at all grade levels and proficiencies.
With a recent focus on Robotics Education and STEM Enrichment, Dr. Davis’ interest in student learning goes beyond the school day. She organizes Regional Robotics Competitions serving as many as 150 students for the internationally recognized FIRST LEGO Robotics League. She instructs teachers nationwide for the NASA Endeavor STEM Teacher Certificate program. Dr. Davis has also served as a consultant for afterschool Robotics programs in several communities throughout Westchester County, NY.

Richard Slesinski

Master Teacher Objective: Mr. Slesinski primary mission is to motivate students to become excited about and engaged in physical science during a memorable summer camp experience.
Professional Experience:
Physics Teacher, Syosset High School, Syosset, NY
After teaching Conceptual Science, Regents Physics, and Honors Physics courses, earned current responsibility of teaching AP Physics B and AP Physics C. Primary focus continues to be fostering a classroom environment conducive to learning and promoting excellent student/teacher/parent interaction. Additional responsibilities include:
– Training faculty on the use of Mimeo interactive white boards, Ed-line web page maker, Infinite Campus gradebook keeper; as well as coaching and mentoring to assist in individual teaching success.
– Advising Students Against Violence Everywhere Club; working with students to create a safe school environment and to raise awareness about bullying by planning and running school wide events.
– Creating and posting video collection of recorded lessons on webpage:; permitting students to review lessons on their own time at their own pace.
– Applying for grants to receive additional funding for physics equipment: Recently received Syosset TRACT Center Grant, $500.00 for a Ripple Tank that allows students to observe wave properties.
– Coaching physics students trying out for US Physics Olympics Team.

Dr. Sunyata Smith

Dr. Sunyata Smith recently accepted a position at Lehman College, in the Department of Education, as a Doctoral Lecturer. Dr. Smith received her BS in biology from SUNY Old Westbury College in Long Island, NY and her Master’s and Ph.D in Microbiology and Immunology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, NY.

As an undergraduate student at SUNY Old Westbury Dr. Smith conducted chemistry research and trained high school and undergraduate students in research techniques and methodology. While working on her Ph.D at Albert Einstein College of Medicine Dr. Smith studied the effects of diet on prostate cancer. Her findings were published in the Journal of Nutrition and she was invited to share her work at several national conferences. After completing her Ph.D., Dr. Smith completed a three year post-doctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Medical School. At UNC Medical School Dr. Smith received two highly competitive grants to study the effects of complementary and alternative healing modalities on several chronic diseases. In addition, at UNC Medical School, Dr. Smith taught genetics to undergraduate students and served as an adult health educator.

Serendipitously at the end of her post-doctoral fellowship, Dr. Smith learned about the growing achievement gap in America and became passionate about helping to provide a quality education to all students. In 2012, Dr. Smith’s passion led her to volunteer for Teach For America, an organization that is dedicated to helping close the achievement gap. As a Teach for America volunteer Dr. Smith taught 7th grade science at a charter school in Harlem, NY and is currently teaching 5th grade science in Brooklyn, NY. In her new role, as Doctoral Lecturer at Lehman College, Dr. Smith plans to continue her efforts to help close the achievement gap by developing high quality teachers and creating outreach programs to under – resourced public schools.

Dr. Shannon Burton

Dr. Burton received two Associate degrees and one Bachelor’s degree from Berkeley College majoring in Business Administration and Hotel and Restaurant Management. In addition, he received his Master’s Degree in Science and Education from Lehman College specializing in Business Education a Master’s Degree in Information Technology and a Master’s Degree in Mathematics Education from Drury University. Furthermore, he earned his Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Masters in Business Administration in Marketing from Capella University. His doctoral research included studying secondary school drop-out rates to see what educational administrators can do to prevent this epidemic. Additionally, he has a graduate certification in School and Business Administration from Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

Dr. Burton is a New York State certified school business and school district administrator in addition he is certified as a mathematics educator. Dr. Burton was a public-school math teacher in Yonkers, New York teaching a variety of math classes for eight years. He was an assistant principal for mathematics and public relations at the same high school he taught mathematics for those eight years. He is currently a middle school principal for an inner-city school district in the state of New York. Furthermore, he is a visiting professor for various local universities in New York teaching a variety of graduate and undergraduate level educational, business and mathematics courses. Dr. Burton loves to cook for his friends and family in addition to playing basketball for local leagues.





• Learn the poem “Invictus Out”
• Learn about the author- William Ernest Henley
• Write a 1-page, 300-word essay on your understanding of the poem, what you know about the author and what it means to you.
• Due Date- August 11, 2014 @ 9:00 AM

Invictus Out

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley (1849–1903)


Student Nia- Invictus Out

The poem that he wrote has a lot of truth to it. The poem is saying even in the dark places the light always comes thru. My head may be bloody, but nothing can take me out. The light is always found at the end of the tunnel. When my time comes, I will not be afraid. Whatever the circumstances, I’m in I will not cry out loud. You are always going to have challenges in your life, nothing is going to be easy. But by faith we can always get through it. This poem is a poem that will always stick with me giving me hope. It tells me to look toward the future. It tells me to keep my head straight and to be on the right path. Also keep my eyes on the prize, which is my future.

Student Rasheda – Robotics

Today in Robotics we did some further building and programming on our robot, Naruto. We had to program it with a special program that came with the robot package. My team – Team E – worked only on the moving blocks. Dr. Davis gave us a special task – we had to get the robot to go around a box. Andre and I, Rasheda Wallace did this by, guess-tempting how many rotations the robot would have to take going forward, and then how to get it to turn properly – so we could get it to go around the box perfectly!! Then we succeed! After that, we had to try and attach one of the sensors. It was a touch sensor. It’s used to signal when the robot touches something or runs into stuff. So it can then do something like… stop itself, turns around, go in the other direction, etc. The hard part about attaching the sensors was that it didn’t come with instructions, so we had to figure out how to attach it and make it sturdy! It was a difficult task – but I think I almost got it!

Student Aldo – Invictus Out

The poem means that no matter the challenges and obstacles Henley faced in his life (some of which were truly awful) he overcame them and was the master of his fate. The poem means to me that I should not let myself be conquered and to keep moving forward. Tat I can’t be beaten and that I should not five up on life. William Henley was an inspiration to many people including me and I loved his poem, he is great.

Student Damion – Science

The next class was science. This was the fun class of the day. What we did was experiments from and I learned a lot. Both names of the experiment were “lava lamps” and the “fire extinguisher”. The first project is how to make a homemade lava lamp. The equipment you need is a soda bottle water, oil, foo coloring, and Alka-Seltzer. The while lesson is about density today. Bow you pour the water and the oil in the soda bottle, then out the food coloring in the water. Then add the Alka-Seltzer tablet to make it start bubbling. it will bubble because the tablet has a gas called carbon dioxide or co2. The air has to escape so it makes the bubbles. The water is denser than the oil, so it goes right to the bottom. This was fun to do in the class so was the fire extinguisher one.