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Scientist-in-Residence

Overview

A Partnership Between Teachers and Scientists

Studies have continually shown that young people who are exposed to science through active, inquiry-based learning are more likely to pursue a STEM career. And one of the most effective ways to engage students in this type of learning is to give them the opportunity to conduct genuine scientific research with a real scientist!

Created in cooperation with the New York City Department of Education in 2012, the Scientist-in-Residence (SiR) program matches scientists with NYC public school teachers to bring scientific inquiry to life in the classroom. By combining their content and pedagogical expertise, each scientist-teacher pair will develop and implement a year-long project that prepares students to engage in authentic research and spark their interest in STEM learning.

We’re currently accepting applications for the 2024-25 year of SiR!  Apply by June 14th to be part of our next cohort:

Our Impact

Since our launch, we have paired over 300 teachers and scientists, and impacted 17,000+ students! Check out the map below to see some of the schools where we’ve put a Scientist-in-Residence.

Check out highlights from our May 2023 SiR Student Showcase:

Contact

For more information, contact Rea Ruiz, Education Program Coordinator, at rruiz@nyas.org

Become a Scientist-in-Residence

Why should you become a Scientist-in-Residence?

If you are a graduate student, postdoc or STEM professional and want to make a difference in the lives of students in the NYC area, then this program is for you! We’ll match you with a motivated STEM teacher and together you’ll create a hands-on, research based project for your students to work on throughout the year.

By serving as a role model and an example of a real-world scientist, you can inspire curiosity and excitement about STEM topics, and positively influence the career aspirations of students from underserved communities. Through the program, you’ll receive training and hands-on experience in teaching methods and strategies, and get the chance to develop your own mentorship skills.

Need more incentive? Accepted scientists will also receive a stipend and a yearlong Membership to the New York Academy of Sciences!

We’re currently accepting applications for the 2024-25 year of SiR!  Apply by June 14th to be part of our next cohort:

Important Dates for 2024 – 2025:

  • June 14: Applications deadline (note: all applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and qualified applicants will be contacted for a phone interview)
  • July 26: Accepted applicants notified

Mandatory events:

  • August 9: Scientist Orientation (virtual; scientists only)
  • August 24: Summer Institute Orientation A (in-person; grades 2-8 only)
  • August 25: Summer Institute Orientation B (in-person; grades 9-12 only)
  • October 21: Fall Planning Session (virtual; all participants)
  • January 28: Winter Planning Session A (in-person; grades 2-8 only)
  • January 30: Winter Planning Session B (in-person; grades 9-12 only)
  • May TBD: Student Showcase (time and location TBD)

It was exciting for me to see the enthusiasm of students when we first gave them their [laser thermometers]. We spent time on the school roof taking temperatures and learning how to best record data. I think the active nature of this exercise really helped students stay engaged.

—Scientist Participant, SiR 2022-23

Frequently Asked Questions

How much time is involved?
  • The program year runs from approximately Sept – May, during which time each SiR team will schedule at least 10 sessions for the scientist to visit the classroom.
  • Scientists and teachers will also meet outside of class time to develop their project and teaching as needed.
  • Scientists will attend training sessions (both virtual and in-person) in August as well as a planning session in October and January (see timeline above for more details).
  • All participants should also plan on attending the End-of-Program Celebration in May.
What are my responsibilities as a Scientist-in-Residence?
  • Specific responsibilities will differ depending on the circumstances of each teacher and classroom. At a minimum, scientists will collaborate with the teachers to develop a research project, supervise experiments, and support classroom instruction on project design and implementation, and in creating a final presentation
  • Teams will be asked to submit regular progress reports and check in with the Program Manager as needed.
How much is the scientist stipend and will I be reimbursed for anything else?
  • Each SiR team will have a $500 budget for their project materials
  • Upon completion of the program, participants will receive a stipend of $500. Limited travel reimbursements are also available for scientists to support travel to schools.
  • All participants will also receive a complimentary Membership to the New York Academy of Sciences

Note: All participants will be required to complete necessary tax forms prior to receiving a stipend.

Who is eligible to apply?

Qualified Scientists are:

  • Graduate students, postdocs, or professionals from STEM disciplines who are interested in improving their pedagogical and communication skills and expanding their teaching experience
  • Located within commuting distance of New York City and/or willing to travel within the five boroughs
  • Available and committed to attend all trainings and meetings
How do I apply?
  • Applications are open from approximately May – June each year
  • Prior to entering schools, all applicants are subject to a background check, administered by the Department of Education and the Department of Health (at no cost to the scientist).

Contact

For more information, contact Rea Ruiz, Education Program Coordinator, at rruiz@nyas.org

Become a Host Teacher

Why should you become a SiR Host Teacher?

By becoming a Scientist-in-Residence Host Teacher you’ll have the chance to bring a real Scientist into your classroom to help motivate and inspire your students. Together, you and your partner will develop an inquiry-based project that encourages students to think critically using the scientific method, while also expanding your repertoire of replicable STEM lesson plans. Host Teachers in past cohorts have reported higher engagement with their students and the added benefit of updating their curricula to incorporate current scientific topics and methodologies.


Need more incentive? Accepted teachers will also receive a stipend and a yearlong Membership to the New York Academy of Sciences!

We’re currently accepting applications for the 2024-25 year of SiR!  Apply by June 14th to be part of our next cohort:

Important Dates for 2024 – 2025:

  • June 14: Applications deadline (note: all applications are reviewed on a rolling basis and qualified applicants will be contacted for a phone interview)
  • July 26: Accepted applicants notified

Mandatory events:

  • August 9: Scientist Orientation (virtual; scientists only)
  • August 24: Summer Institute Orientation A (in-person; grades 2-8 only)
  • August 25: Summer Institute Orientation B (in-person; grades 9-12 only)
  • October 21: Fall Planning Session (virtual; all participants)
  • January 28: Winter Planning Session A (in-person; grades 2-8 only)
  • January 30: Winter Planning Session B (in-person; grades 9-12 only)
  • May TBD: Student Showcase (time and location TBD)

I got to enhance our Human Body System unit, which felt a bit dense and abstract for our students last year. I’m excited to introduce it through the lens of neuroscience thanks to the partnership with our scientist.

—Teacher Participant, SiR 2022-23

Frequently Asked Questions

How much time is involved?
  • The program year runs from approximately Sept – May, during which time each SiR team will schedule at least 10 sessions for the scientist to visit the classroom.
  • Scientists and teachers will also meet outside of class time to develop their project and teaching as needed.
  • Teachers will attend an in-person training session in August, as well as a planning sessions in October and January (see above timeline for more details)
  • All participants should also plan on attending the End-of-Program Celebration in May with representatives from their class.
What is my responsibility as a SiR Host Teacher?
  • Prior to the scientist’s first visit, Host Teachers will prepare students and the school for the implementation of the Scientist-in-Residence program.
  • Teachers will collaborate with their partner scientist to ensure the project and related activities are aligned with STEM standards and provide support in classroom management and content delivery
  • Teachers will coordinate the attendance and participation of students in our End-of-Program showcase
  • Teams will also be asked to submit regular progress reports and check in with the Program Manager as needed.
How much is the teacher stipend and will I be reimbursed for anything else?
  • Each SiR team will have a $500 budget for their project materials and supplies
  • Upon completion of the program, participants will receive a stipend of $500.
  • All participants will also receive a complimentary membership to the New York Academy of Sciences

Note: All participants will be required to complete necessary tax forms prior receiving a stipend.

Who is eligible to apply?

Qualified Host Teachers are:

  • New York City public/charter school science teachers in grades 2-12, who are interested in implementing a year-long STEM project and welcoming a scientist into their classroom
  • Have at least 1 full year of teaching experience
  • Available and committed to attend all trainings and meetings
  • Dedicated teachers who are open to continuing the project or implementing it with different cohorts of students after the program
How do I apply?
  • Applications are open from approximately May – June each year

Contact

For more information, contact Rea Ruiz, Education Program Coordinator, at rruiz@nyas.org

Program Sponsors

SiR is possible because of generous support from our program sponsors:

Fred J. Brotherton Charitable Foundation

Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, Inc.

The Carson Family Charitable Trust

Robert Catell

Equinor

Foundation for the National Institutes of Health

Hearst Foundation

Infosys Foundation USA

Konstantin Shakhnovich

R. May Lee and John P. Hall

Mushett Family Foundation

Edith Neimark

The Pinkerton Foundation

Click here to find out how your organization can help support programs like this!

Promoting Student Interest in STEM

A young woman examines a specimen under a microscope.

The Academy’s Scientists in Residence initiative aims to jumpstart student interest in STEM.

By Adrienne Umali, M.S.B.S., M.S.Ed.

Kathrin Schilling, Ph.D.
Associate Research Scientist Geochemistry, Columbia University

Regardless of the field you’re in, it is likely that if you looked back at your career path, you could identify at least one person who has helped guide you to where you are today. Whether this person was a teacher, family member, coach, or supervisor, mentorship has always been an incredibly important part of not only exposing individuals to new ideas and opportunities, but in encouraging them to their full potential.

When the 2018 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores in math and science showed the United States ranked 13th, behind several Asian and European nations, it was once again demonstrated that the U.S. needs to raise its investment in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to remain globally competitive. These fields are core to almost every industry, but a 2017 poll found that only 38 percent of middle and high school teachers see their students as being “naturally interested” in STEM.

Emily Bohonos
Science Teacher, Elijah Stroud Middle School, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Cultivating a Love of STEM

Most students rarely have the opportunity to meet a working scientist, so developing programs that expose students to science professionals is proving to be a critical way to cultivate a love of STEM in the next generation. It’s what brought Emily Bohonos, a middle school science teacher in Brooklyn, N.Y., to join The New York Academy of Science’s Scientist-in-Residence (SiR) program.

SiR brings together scientists and NYC middle and high school teachers for a year-long collaboration that aims to jumpstart student interest in STEM through real-world projects and the opportunity to “humanize” a scientist.

Bohonos along with her partner Kathrin Schilling, Ph.D., an associate research scientist of Geochemistry from Columbia University, have spent the last few months creating a project focused on something that most students already have an interest in: food. Building off of Schillings’ expertise — she has degrees in geology, soil science and microbiology — the two are challenging students to research diet variations around the world and create experiments that explore the effects of different conditions on plant growth. Their project pushes students to practice thinking critically, creatively, and globally.

Thinking Outside the Box

Schilling loves sharing her passion for science with students and is thrilled when she sees them thinking outside of the box. The benefits of programs like this, however, are not limited to added content expertise — they also provide tangible examples of people who have found success in STEM.

In fact, Schilling notes that many of the questions she gets are far removed from her area of expertise. With the title of “Dr.“, the students see her as an expert in all science-related fields, a factor she recognizes may be one of the reasons that science can seem inaccessible to some students. “It feels like you have to be a genius in every field [to be a scientist] and we are definitely not.” Schilling admits that she herself wasn’t a great student until she was able to start specializing in her post-secondary education.

To this end, Bohonos creates time during each lesson to allow students to interact one-on-one with their Resident Scientist and get to know her on a personal level. In this way, students can hopefully begin to see STEM as a career path not just limited to those who have already been labeled as “smart”. Fostering this type of environment is particularly critical at schools like Bohonos’, where students of color make up almost 90 percent of the student body, a group which still remains significantly underrepresented in the number of individuals receiving undergraduate STEM degrees.

Mentoring takes time and it comes with its own challenges, but despite this, Schilling remains optimistic about her role in fostering a positive outlook regarding STEM. “Even if I can change the mind of just a few [students] it’s more than before the program.

Exploring STEM Opportunities in Afterschool Programs

Dr. Meghan Groome was recently asked to provide City Council testimony on the success of the Academy’s Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program.

On Tuesday, October 16, 2012, Dr. Meghan Groome, director of K-12 Education and Science & the City at the Academy was asked to provide testimony for the New York City Council on the topic of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) opportunities in afterschool programs. Dr. Groome runs the Academy’s Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program, which aims to create a replicable, scalable program model that can be instituted in communities near and far. Below is a transcript of Dr. Groome’s testimony.

Testimony Transcript:

Good afternoon and thank you for inviting me to testify before the Committee on Youth Services. My name is Meghan Groome and I am the director of K12 Education and Science & the City at the New York Academy of Sciences. For nearly 200 years the New York Academy of Sciences (or the Academy) has brought together extraordinary people working at the frontiers of discovery and has promoted vital links between science and society. The Academy has a history of building new scientific communities, constructing innovative connections among an extensive scientific network, and driving path-breaking initiatives for scientific, social, and economic benefit.

Since the 1940s, the Academy has made investments in K-12 (Kindergarten through 12th grade) science education, with programs like the New York City Science & Engineering Fair, capacity-building programs to support outreach in other institutions, and mentoring programs for top performing students in New York City. As a result of these investments, the Academy has increased the City’s ability to nurture top scientific talent.

In recent years, the Academy has redoubled its efforts to bring New York’s wealth of scientific resources to bear on the needs of the City’s schools, with a focus on improving science education for all students, especially those traditionally underrepresented in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields. The New York City Science Education Initiative has a simple mission:  to identify high-impact, scalable pathways for scientists to directly improve the number of children who are STEM-literate. Our theory of change relies heavily on the core competencies of the Academy – to serve as a connector between the well-resourced scientific community and the under-resourced education community (including high-need students and teachers).

In 2010, a group of Deans and Faculty affiliated with the City’s research and medical universities asked the Academy to create a program to provide their top young scientists with an opportunity to learn how to teach science/STEM.  At the same time, The Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) approached the Academy to find a partnership opportunity to provide more STEM education in the OST and Beacon Programs. 

Launched in Fall 2010, the Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program was designed to satisfy both requests by recruiting graduate students and postdoctoral fellows from the Academy’s Science Alliance[i] program to volunteer to teach in DYCD funded afterschool programs.  When hired, I myself had a hard time understanding why a young scientist, mathematician, or engineer would take an afternoon a week to volunteer to teach 4th through 8th graders, but it becomes easier to understand when you learn that this generation of young people believe it is their obligation to serve as role models and mentors. They have grown up in a culture of service learning. They also face a tough job market where teaching, interpersonal, and mentoring skills are at a premium and can result in increased job opportunities. 

Now, as we begin our 6th semester of mentors, we’ve worked with nearly 400 young scientists, 7,000 children, and delivered more than 80,000 hours of instruction in all 5 boroughs (Exhibit 1). In Fall 2011, we expanded to Newark, NJ, and recently received a $2.95 million grant from the National Science Foundation to scale this program through the State University of New York system which will serve close to 200 young scientists and 3,000 children.

For the students in the programs, the benefits are obvious. As one of our mentors recently wrote, “Learning comes pretty easily when people enjoy what you’re asking them to learn!” Moreover, our mentors deliver high quality, inquiry-based math, science, and robotics courses while serving as role models and demonstrating to the students that scientists aren’t at all stereotypes.

For example, all of the mentors do the same activity on the first day:  they ask the students to “draw a scientist”[ii]. It’s a research protocol that allows the mentors to understand that most kids hold the same misconception of a scientist; invariably the students almost all draw an older white man with crazy hair, a bowtie, and often an evil glint in his eye. It doesn’t take long after the students meet their mentors to understand that today’s scientists used to look just like them. This realization is the beginning of the development of a scientific identity. When students are again asked to draw a scientist on the last day of class, they often draw their mentors or themselves in a lab coat.

In addition to attitudinal changes, children in our program receive at least 12-15 hours of enrichment programming over the course of a semester. While this may not sound like a lot of time, consider that the average student receives 2.3 hours of science instruction a week[iii] and that many of our mentors report that they are the sole source of science in a child’s day.

We are often asked why we don’t work directly with schools and the answer is that we do – we have nearly 1,400 public school teachers engaged in programming designed for them.  However, through the STEM Mentoring Program we realized that we had a great opportunity to serve the need of our young scientists to learn in an environment where the children’s social, emotional, and educational well being were top priority while hewing to the hands-on, activity learning spirit of afterschool programs.

  Afterschool programs typically offer smaller class sizes, freedom from state and local academic standards, reduced anxiety over tests and performance indicators, and more fluid uses of time free from the traditional school day structure. The Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program takes advantage of the existing infrastructure of OST programs, which include hundreds of community-based organizations charged with the safekeeping and, increasingly, the academic enrichment of the children in their care. 

As science continues to be marginalized in formal classrooms, the role of afterschool programs is increasingly viewed as an important arena for academic enrichment[iv]. Expanding the school day through afterschool programs offers the opportunity to increase a student’s exposure to high-quality STEM education by providing three elements that lead to an individual’s persistence into a STEM career: engagement, continuity, and capacity[v]. While continuity and capacity are important factors, there is evidence that engagement is potentially more important than achievement or course enrollment[vi]. By infusing STEM into existing community-based afterschool programs with strong curriculum partners, the proposed program can bypass the constraints of the formal classroom structure by providing relevant, hands-on curriculum; opportunities to interact with young, diverse scientific role models; and additional content knowledge and resources[vii]. Afterschool programs reach large swaths of urban students and provide safe and structured informal learning environments that allow for creative and enriching STEM programming[viii].

As a result of the success we’ve had with the current Afterschool STEM Mentoring Program, the Academy will pilot this program with the State University of New York (SUNY) in six communities, including an expanded partnership with SUNY Downstate in Brooklyn. Additionally, we have a partnership with the Girl Scouts of the USA to scale this program through their council system. With the generous and sustained support of our funders and the Department of Youth and Community Development, we aim to deepen our commitment to the students of New York and create a model by which any region with an abundance of scientists and students with an enthusiasm for STEM can adopt this new model for delivering high quality STEM education via afterschool programs.


[i] www.nyas.org/sciencealliance

[ii] http://www.ecu.edu/ncspacegrant/docs/RESTEPdocs/DASTRatingRubric.pdf

[iii] http://www.csss-science.org/downloads/NAEPElemScienceData.pdf

[iv] http://afterschoolscience.org/pdf/coalition_publications/afterschool%20advantage.pdf

[v] http://www.smm.org/static/about/ecc_paper.pdf

[vi] Maltese, A. V. and Tai, R. H. (2011), Pipeline persistence: Examining the association of educational experiences with earned degrees in STEM among U.S. students. Science Education, 95: 877-907. doi: 10.1002/sce.20441

[vii] Coalition for Science After School. (2007). Science in after-school: A blueprint for Action. Retrieved from http://www.greatscienceforgirls.org/files/Science-in-Afterschool.pdf

[viii] Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education. (2010). Out of school time STEM: Building experiences, building bridges. B. Bevan, V. Michalchik, R. Bhanot, N. Rauch, J. Remold, R. Semper, & P. Shields (Eds.). San Francisco, CA: Exploratorium.