Lawmakers Learn How Students ‘Discover the Universe’
The Vanderbilt’s Mobile Classroom, Discovering the Universe, a successful science-outreach program, traveled to showcase its curriculum to Long Island state representatives on May 16 at the New York State Capitol in Albany.
Assemblyman Steve Englebright (East Setauket) hosted a presentation in his office, then invited fellow legislators to tour the Classroom with Vanderbilt science educator Roger Ledgister. Inside the Classroom – parked on the capitol plaza just outside the Legislative Office Building – Ledgister demonstrated what students learn as they interact with its five computer-station screens.
Legislators who attended the event included Englebright and Assembly members Phil Ramos (Brentwood), Andrew Raia (Northport), Michael Fitzpatrick (Smithtown), Kimberly Jean-Pierre (Lindenhurst), David McDonough (Bellmore), Fred Thiele (Bridgehampton), Anthony D’Urso (Great Neck), Tom McKevitt (East Meadow), Michael Kearns (West Seneca), and Senator Phil Boyle (Bay Shore).
On hand to discuss the program with visitors were Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the Vanderbilt, and Melanie Littlejohn of the National Grid Foundation.
The Mobile Classroom, which has received ongoing supported from the National Grid Foundation, takes science and astronomy education to individual schools on Long Island and in Brooklyn and Queens, including high-needs districts. The Classroom brings state-of-the-art technology and an engaging, professionally developed science and astronomy curriculum directly to students in grades 3-12.
Since September 2015, the Mobile Classroom has visited 40 schools and libraries, and 10,606 students, Reinheimer said.
“With school budgets tighter than ever, the Mobile Classroom brings the science ‘field trip’ to students and eliminates school transportation costs,” he said. The program also enhances STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) opportunities and aligns with New York State standards, he said.
Bob Keller, president of the National Grid Foundation, said “Helping children to become excited about science is one of the most critical educational priorities we have as a nation, and this stunning, traveling window into the universe has become a major resource for encouraging Long Island students to pursue careers in science.”
The Classroom is a 37-foot recreational vehicle transformed into a dynamic learning center and staffed by highly trained science educators. It offers five hands-on interactive exhibits that engage students in a way that is engaging, stimulating and fun. The self-contained modules are Light, Telescope, Digital Imaging, 3-D Universe, and Gravity.