On Saturday, May 6, 2023, MSK joined more than 1,000 students, parents, and teachers for the 2023 Bronx Community School District 9 Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Expo. The event was held at Yankee Stadium in partnership with the New York City Department of Education.
Three MSK researchers served as guest judges at the event, which celebrated students’ academic achievements.
This year’s event featured approximately 80 science projects presented by District 9 students from across grade levels. The projects were on display on Yankee Stadium’s Field Level Concourse.
Connecting with Students
MSK was honored to be invited to host an outreach table among the students’ projects. Volunteers from the MSK Ralph Lauren Center (RLC) helped engage attendees at the event. RLC patient access coordinator Carmen Navarro and care coordinator Miriam Williams handed out hundreds of MSK-branded giveaways, including mini hand sanitizers, pens, and informational brochures on cancer prevention and screening.
Both women knew volunteering at this event was important. “We want to make sure that local students see a career at MSK as an option,” said Carmen. “The more they see our presence in the community, the more they feel that they belong here, because they do.”
MSK RLC has hosted high school and college student interns interested in STEM careers for years, Carmen notes. She recalled that one year, from a group of ten interns, two became nurse practitioners, three went to medical school, and one is currently a postdoctoral research fellow. The remaining four became teachers.
A Surprise Request
Three MSK researchers also volunteered to staff the STEM Expo. The morning of the event, they received an unexpected request: event organizers asked if they would like to serve as guest judges of the science fair.
Their answer? A resounding YES.
Research scholar Dr. Tanaya Roychowdhury and postdoctoral fellow Dr. Grady Nelson, both from the Chemical Biology Program, and pathology research fellow Dr. Mala Jain reviewed several of the projects. They also had an opportunity to interview the student scientists, some of whom were as young as second grade.
A Great Experience
Dr. Roychowdhury was particularly impressed by two projects. The first used Legos to design a hopper leg that was fully controlled by computers and assessed the impact of the leg’s length on mobility. The second explored the use of fingerprints for pattern matching, which has implications for use in pedigree analysis and criminal identification.
“It was a pleasure to serve as a judge for the poster presentations at the District 9 Science Fair at Yankee Stadium,” said Dr. Roychowdhury. “It was great to celebrate the enthusiastic young scientists and their exciting projects and see how well supported they were by their teacher mentors.”
Dr. Jain was astonished to see a second-grade student’s project focus on DNA. “That they were aware of the significance of DNA at that age was so impressive,” she said. “Overall, meeting young scientists from different schools and grade levels was a fantastic experience.”
“It was truly an amazing experience to meet so many different students with such a variety of backgrounds and experiences coming together to celebrate science,” added Dr. Nelson.
The STEM Expo has been a tremendous success since its inception. Student participation in the program this year was its highest to date.
Education and training are critical to MSK’s mission. MSK provides educational and enriching opportunities for students achieving their high school, college, medical, and doctoral degrees, as well as continuing education for practicing healthcare professionals. MSK’s efforts aim to support excellence and diversity in all aspects of healthcare.