Led jointly by an engineer and an educator, CCNY’s City Technology project engages pupils from pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade in the concepts, processes and social practices of technology.
Heading the program are Professors Gary Benenson, Mechanical Engineering, and James Neujahr, Elementary Education. Benenson has been a faculty member at the School of Engineering since 1987. He holds a bachelor’s in physics from the University of Chicago and a master's in engineering science from Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute, and he has had engineering positions at Picker International, Columbia University and Brookhaven National Labs. His interest in working with youngsters is an outcome of many years of volunteer work in East Harlem, Chicago, New Haven and the East New York section of Brooklyn.
The City Technology activities are based on problems and artifacts familiar to the youngsters in their everyday lives. The program provides contexts for learning in a number of subjects -standards-based math, science, English language arts and social studies as well as technology.
In the current round of funding from the National Science Foundation, City Technology has developed and tested a professional development model that combines hands-on workshops with on-line forums and a project web site. More than 1,700 elementary school teachers have attended workshops in New York and 17 other states, reaching more than 20,000 students in their classrooms. These students include Native Americans and Alaskans, bilingual Latinos, inner-city African-Americans and rural Appalachians.
The project recently received funding to provide curriculum and professional development support for a project that will engage inner-city teenagers working with after-school centers in St. Louis, St. Paul, and Bemidji, MN, Ithaca, NY, Albuquerque, Seattle and Shreveport.
Another new City Technology initiative is the “Kids’ Page,” which provides web resources for children to design simple technologies on their own. Activities engage upper elementary and middle-school youngsters in making flip toys, sail cars, paper cups, pop-ups and wind-up toys from recycled materials and school supplies. The Kids’ Page is available on-line at: .
As an outcome of its first NSF grant in 1997, City Technology produced the Stuff That Works! Series of teacher guides, published by Heinemann. Titles include Mapping, Mechanisms & Other Systems, Designed Environments: Places, Practices & Plans, Packaging & Other Structures, and Signs, Symbols & Codes. The books are available from Heinemann at: .