Homeless students participate in STEM-related activities at New York Hall of Science

Homeless students participate in STEM-related activities at New York Hall of Science
Photo by Carlotta Mohamed
By Carlotta Mohamed

Nearly 40 children from homeless shelters in Queens and Manhattan visited the New York Hall of Science Monday for a fun-filled day involving STEM-related activities.

Operated by Win (formerly Women in Need), New York City’s largest provider of shelter and support services for homeless women and their children in partnership with AT&T, the visit was a part of Camp Win, an immersive eight week-long program emphasizing science, technology, engineering, arts and math education for nearly 700 homeless students currently living in Win shelters.

Some 15 students from a shelter in Astoria went on the field trip.

At the New York Hall of Science located at 47-01 111th St. in Corona, the students whose ages ranged from 5 to 14 had engaged in tech-focused activities, including creating their own simple machines at the design lab, watching an educational movie, and playing mini golf at the rocket park, among other activities.

Tamara Ortiz, director of Children’s Services at Win, said it’s been very rewarding being able to give back to vulnerable youth in need, giving them a new experience.

“There is science, mathematicians, engineers, and cooks…letting them know that there’s careers out there for them, and reminding them their future is still ahead of them,” said Ortiz.

The children took part in animation, engineering, nutrition, and playing in the scientific playground where they learned about water, dimension and how gravity works, she said.

According to Ortiz, the children get a chance to be with other children in their own element, learning from critical thinking and problem solving.

Robin White, an AT&T representative, said AT&T’s support for the field trip is part of the company’s “Summer of STEM,” a group of programs designed to introduce youth in the five boroughs to essential tech skills.

“I think this kind of opportunity just opens their eyes to hands-on learning of different kinds of tools for science and technology,” said White. “It’s not just classroom work, it’s really hands-on work and we want to show them it’s a great thing to study in school.”

According to White, AT&T has been supporting students with STEM education for a long time. This year the company expanded the effort to help homeless and foster care students who don’t have the same level of access to STEM opportunities as other students.

AT&T has built on its collaborations with Girls Who Code, All Star Code, and DreamYard, said White. In the past five years alone, the company has contributed an additional $1 million to local education programs, helping hundreds more young people to access free programs.

“You start to break the cycle of homelessness when you start giving to the youth and letting them know this is a temporary circumstance that they’re going through with their families, not a permanent circumstance,” said Ortiz.

Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmohamed@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4526.