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High schoolers spawn fish, grow lettuce on NYC school rooftop

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By Jon Craig for the Cornell Chronicle

Philson Warner works with Teishawn W. Florostal Kevelier, a 2012 graduate of Food and Finance High School. Kevelier is now a 4H youth development associate and 4H research assistant. Jason Koski/University Photograpahy

Philson Warner works with Teishawn W. Florostal Kevelier, a 2012 graduate of Food and Finance High School. Kevelier is now a 4H youth development associate and 4H research assistant.
Jason Koski/University Photograpahy

Atop a roof overlooking Manhattan’s skyline at sundown Oct. 25, more than 300 public officials and proud parents of Food and Finance High School students toured a first-of-its-kind aquaponics greenhouse.

Philson A.A. Warner, founding director of the Cornell Cooperative Extension – New York City (CUCE-NYC) Hydroponics, Aquaculture, Aquaponics Learning Lab, offered lively, personal tours of the newly opened greenhouse. The structure is used to grow lettuce and fish through a natural process that conserves energy and the environment.

“The youngsters learn to do more with the sciences,” Warner said of his teenage students, whom he called “Cornell colleagues.”

Eight computers monitor “the weather situation above us,” to help control indoor temperatures, moisture and ideal humidity for growing vegetables, Warner said.

“This is what we call a green, green, green greenhouse,” he said, noting it produces “clean, safe, fresh foods. ... Nothing goes to waste.”

Even its solar panels are producing surplus energy that is fed into the grid.

Heads of lettuce that can take up to 10 weeks to grow outdoors are cultivated in just three weeks at the school on West 50th Street. About 8,000 pounds of tasty fish spawned monthly are another benefit of the scientific project.

As part of the greenhouse’s grand opening ceremony, dozens of high school students greeted guests and served crab cakes, vegan meatballs, fancy desserts and other hors d’oeuvres that they cooked in the school’s kitchens.

Jennifer Tiffany, Ph.D. ’04, executive director of CUCE-NYC, heaped praise on everyone who helped produce the hands-on learning environment and thanked the “brilliant students” who served as caterers and provided warm hospitality for the event.

“What an amazing, amazing community of young people,” Tiffany said during the ceremony.

Warner designed the 1,664-square-foot greenhouse, which is now part of the New York City Department of Education’s Park West Educational Campus. The project was financed through private donations, the New York City Council and the Manhattan Borough President’s Office.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said she was very proud to have been instrumental in approving and helping secure public and private funding for the project. “You are training people for the future,” she said.

“You could be in the Bronx and they are talking about the fish” produced at the Manhattan high school, Brewer gushed. “Without Cornell, this would not have been possible. This is a very exciting project.”

The Food Education Fund, a nonprofit foundation, also has been a key partner in developing and sustaining the learning labs. Nan Shipley, chair of the board of the Food Education Fund, proudly pointed out that the Food and Finance High School has a 91 percent graduation rate, with most of its students advancing to college or full employment in related fields.

About 400 students are enrolled at Food and Finance High School. The school’s curriculum includes paid internships at restaurants and other food service businesses. The opening of the greenhouse marked the latest expansion of ongoing learning lab programs in a long-standing partnership with Cornell University.

High schoolers spawn fish, grow lettuce on NYC school rooftop - Cornell Chronicle

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RCCP awarded $2.9 million to evaluate Syracuse schools intervention

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By Sheri Hall for the BCTR

The BCTR’s Residential Child Care Project received a $2.9 million grant from the National Institute of Justice to evaluate a program that helps teachers manage aggressive and challenging behavior among students in the Syracuse City School District.

BCTR researchers will be evaluating a program called Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for Schools, or TCI-S, which trains school staff how to use trauma-informed practices to anticipate and de-escalate disruptive behavior, manage aggression, and help students learn social and emotional skills. To provide the organizational support that teachers need, TCI-S consultants will work with district and school leaders to expand and develop new policies and procedures that provide monitoring, supervisory, and clinical assistance to teachers

The project will begin in January and run for four years.

portrait of Debbie Sellers

Debbie Sellers

“This grant provides us with a wonderful opportunity to help struggling schools and build the evidence base for our longest-standing program – Therapeutic Crisis Intervention,” said Debbie Sellers, director of research and evaluation for the Residential Child Care Project.

Almost half of children in the Syracuse District live at or below the national poverty threshold. Living in poverty increases a child’s risk of being exposed to trauma and other adverse childhood experiences.  These exposures often impair the development of executive and social-cognitive functions that play a central role in learning and the regulation of emotions and social behavior, Sellers said.

“Teachers need skills and strategies that help them interact with students in ways that promote self-regulation of emotions and behavior,” she explained. “The TCI-S program trains teachers on how to prevent and de-escalate crises and teach students constructive ways to deal with stressful situations.”

For this project, BCTR researchers will conduct a randomized-controlled trial in 19 elementary and kindergarten-through-eighth-grade schools to determine whether TCI-S leads to fewer disciplinary infractions in schools.  They will also conduct a longitudinal qualitative interview study of school staff about how they practice TCI-S and their perceptions of school safety and climate.

TCI-S is part of the BCTR’s Residential Child Care Project, which translates current research into programs that are designed to improve the quality of care for children in group care settings, schools, juvenile justice programs, foster care, adoptive families, and community-based programs.


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Talks at Twelve: Paul Krause, Thursday, December 7, 2017

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Online Learning: Examples and Opportunities
Paul Krause, eCornell

Thursday, December 7, 2017
12:00-1:00 PM
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

Online learning presents important opportunities to innovate and to reach new students around the world. We’ll review approaches to online learning and clarify commonly used - and often confused terms like “asynchronous,” “synchronous,” “self-paced,” “expert led,” and “MOOCs.” We’ll look at online course examples and ways to combine different instructional components to build an engaging, multi-faceted learning experience. Lastly, we’ll share some lessons learned and best practices for online course development, and resources available at Cornell University to help you to take the next step.

Paul Krause serves as the CEO of eCornell and the associate vice provost for online learning at Cornell University. Paul is responsible for eCornell and collaborating with the senior leadership of the university and its faculty to facilitate online learning innovation and growth. Paul was formerly the CEO of Element K, an online learning company based in Rochester, NY. He grew Element K into a leading online learning provider before it was acquired by Skillsoft. He also co-founded Matrix Insights, an online platform for personalized leadership development. He holds an MBA from the University of Rochester and a BS from Cornell University.


Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Botanic Gardens lot across the road from Beebe Hall. No registration or RSVP required except for groups of 5 or more. We ask that larger groups email Patty at letting us know of your plans to attend so that we can order enough lunch.

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NYC high schoolers discover opportunity at Big Red STEM Day

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By Jamie Black for the Cornell Chronicle

Anasia Brewster, left, and Alondra Vences, right, students at the High School of Sports Management in Brooklyn, learn how to use electroplating to make a silver penny and a copper nickel, while Cornell University graduate student Arianna Gagnon looks on.

Anasia Brewster (l) and Alondra Vences (r) of the High School of Sports Management in Brooklyn learn how to use electroplating to make a silver penny and a copper nickel, while Cornell University graduate student Arianna Gagnon looks on.

While many New York City high school students might have spent the first Saturday in November playing Pokémon GO, some of their peers were creating their own games using a JavaScript-based code that doesn’t require any prior programming knowledge.

Part of the first Big Red STEM Day, Nov. 5, it was just one of the workshop activities designed to expose high school students from communities underrepresented in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) to educational and career opportunities in those fields.

Held on the Weill Cornell Medicine campus, Big Red STEM Day is a collaborative effort run by students, faculty and staff across Cornell campuses and the New York City Department of Education. While Cornell Tech representatives taught student attendees to create their own Pokémon GO games and SnapChat filters, graduate and undergraduate students from the Ithaca campus showed teens how to use electroplating to make a silver penny and a copper nickel. Medical and biomedical doctoral students taught them how to use staining methods to differentiate bacteria from soil, yogurt and even their mouths, and a Cornell Cooperative Extension associate engaged them in cartography and mapping activities to create their own collaborative design for a neighborhood park.

“Being here today really opened my eyes to the world of science and technology,” said Tamia Phoenix, a junior at Excelsior Preparatory High School in Queens. She was one of 60 students from 10 high schools in Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx to attend the daylong event. Her classmate, Maurice Watson, said, “We got to choose two activities for the day: one that we were potentially interested in for a career and one workshop we may have never considered.”

Organizers hope that attending the college-level STEM program prompts the students to pursue higher education in science and medicine.

“Exposure to STEM is critical for high school students,” said Marcus Lambert, director of diversity and student services at the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences and a STEM Day discussion panel moderator. “It’s that spark, the discovery of what science and technology have to offer them in the future.”

Fatou Waggeh, a high school student at the Manhattan Center for Math and Science, learns how to use staining methods to differentiate bacteria from soil, yogurt and even their mouth.

Fatou Waggeh, a high school student at the Manhattan Center for Math and Science, learns how to use staining methods to differentiate bacteria from soil, yogurt and even someone's mouth.

Not only did Big Red STEM Day immerse the high school students in problem-solving and community-building STEM exercises, it also allowed high school students to network with faculty and undergraduate, graduate and medical students.

“The collaboration among Cornell campuses and the Cooperative Extension office enabled the research that’s being conducted by faculty and graduate students on campus to be translated into an educational opportunity for the underrepresented youth in New York City,” Lambert said.

Jennifer Tiffany, executive director of Cornell University Cooperative Extension-New York City programs, was encouraged by the students’ enthusiasm. “We saw a tremendous response from the students,” she said. “There was so much intensity in their questions, a real interest in expanding their knowledge of STEM.”

The New York City Department of Education urged students to encourage their friends to consider studying STEM courses in college and pursue careers in these fields. “These students will feed the field of research for science, technology and medicine,” Tiffany added. “They are the future.”






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Doing Translational Research podcast: Marianella Casasola


Talk to Your Child
Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Marianella Casasola
Department of Human Development, Cornell University

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New systematic translational review on improving young children’s reading skills

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A new systematic translational review (STR) from the BCTR Research Synthesis Project examined whether there are brief, low-cost, home-based parenting interventions that improve pre-reading skills for children ages 2–5. The review of existing research on this subject found that there is an at-home method that has demonstrable positive effects on young children's reading skills: dialogic reading. For more information on the review process and findings, see the full STR, Parenting Interventions to Improve Pre-literacy Reading Skills for Children Ages 2–5.

STRs are the result of a new research synthesis protocol designed to include practitioner input in the review process while maintaining the structure of a systematic review and speed of a rapid review. The method was developed by Research Synthesis Project director Mary Maley to improve the accessibility and use of research evidence by community practitioners and policy makers. Review topics focus on applied practice questions which require a synopsis of evidence to use in order to strengthen program implementation. More about the STR process can be found here.


Previously pr0duced STRs:

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Talks at Twelve: Stephen Hamilton and Mara Jacobs, Thursday, February 12, 2015

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Translational Research Goes to School: Action Research at High Tech High
Stephen Hamilton and Mara Jacobs, Human Development, Cornell University

Thursday, February 12, 2015
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

This talk is open to all. Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Plantations lot across the road from Beebe Hall.

In this talk Stephen Hamilton will introduce High Tech High and the Graduate School of Education, describe research that has been done and is currently underway, and invite discussion of possible future translational research. Mara Jacobs will share her experiences as a graduate of High Tech High (HTH) and her efforts to integrate the HTH philosophy into other educational settings.

High Tech High is a charter school organization with 12 schools, elementary through high school, in San Diego County, California. Students are admitted by lottery, stratified by zip code to represent the populations of County districts. Nearly all graduate from high school and about 90% have graduated or are still enrolled in college six years later. The HTH Graduate School of Education confers master’s degrees on teachers and principals, who conduct action research on their practice, and disseminate HTH practices and principles locally, nationally, and internationally, promoting practice-based research and creating opportunities for research on dissemination.

Stephen Hamilton is Professor of Human Development and Associate Director of the Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research. He has been a high school teacher and Cornell’s Associate Provost for Outreach. He edited a special issue of Applied Developmental Science now in press that includes his essay on “Translational Research and Youth Development” and an article on “Social Inventions to Improve the Transition to Adulthood” (Mary Agnes Hamilton, first author). After retiring from Cornell in June 2015, he will become President of the High Tech High Graduate School of Education.

Mara Jacobs (HD ’17) is a 2013 graduate of High Tech High and currently a sophomore in Human Development with a minor in Education. As part of her Senior Project at High Tech High International, Mara traveled throughout Canada to help integrate the High Tech High philosophy into private schools in the Ontario Province. Currently she is working on developing an inclusive hands-on learning school in Haiti. Partnering with the High Tech High system, the curriculum group is responsible for teacher training, school organizational structure, and curriculum development. Mara is involved with rugby, theater, and education at Cornell.

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Talks at Twelve: Matthew Hall

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Latino Children and White Out-Migration from New Gateway School Districts
Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Matthew Hall
Policy Analysis & Management, Cornell University

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Talks at Twelve: Ravhee Bholah, Tuesday, December 16, 2014

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Promoting Sexual Health Including HIV and AIDS Education in School-based Programs though Community Partnerships
Ravee Bholah, School of Science and Mathematics, Mauritius Institute of Education

Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Beebe Hall, 2nd floor conference room

This talk is open to all. Lunch will be served. Metered parking is available in the Plantations lot across the road from Beebe Hall.

In his talk, Ravhee Bholah will discuss findings related to policy and community partnerships that support sexual health education programs at selected New York State schools. He will share insights on institutional capacities that exist within schools to support these programs. Challenges experienced by schools and officials in the coordination and implementation of such programs, and models used in the training of educators on sexual health will be also addressed.

Ravhee Bholah, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the School of Science and Mathematics at the Mauritius Institute of Education in Mauritius. He has been coordinator of (1) sexuality education and (2) education for sustainable development (ESD) at this institute and has leading roles in curriculum development on sexual health, HIV prevention, and ESD including climate change education in the Republic of Mauritius. Ravhee is currently a visiting Fulbright Scholar in the BCTR.

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4-H program supports youth with learning disabilities

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0997_12_003.jpgNigel Gannon, 4-H's State Healthy Living Program Specialist, recently co-presented Teaching Public Speaking Skills to Dyslexic Learners at the 41st Annual Everyone Reading Conference at New York University. The session described a successful and replicable model for schools to use in preparing students for formal and informal public speaking challenges. His co-presenters were John Simms, Reconstructive Language Teacher, and Kathleen N. Rose, Reconstructive Language Department Chair, of The Gow School. Kathy is a former 4-H volunteer, which led her to reach out to Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) -Erie County to develop a partnership. The Gow School in South Wales, NY serves students with dyslexia and learning disabilities. Gannon connected with Simms and Rose through Erie County's 4-H Public Presentations program, which is under the stewardship of Angela Northern and Teraisa Buratto.

Angela Northern, Regional 4-H Research Specialist in Erie County, wrote the Public Presentation program as a six-lesson series to provide guidance to staff at the Gow School in supporting students to systematically develop a public presentation. The series uses existing 4-H resources to build skills in developing and presenting illustrated talks and demonstrations. The expertise of Gow staff in the area of dyslexia and other language disorders allows them to support their students in using 4-H resources to develop their skills and then to participate in the county-level 4-H Public Presentation events without additional modifications. All students from Gow give a county-level public presentation in the winter. When the top 15% of county 4-H presenters are invited to the Western District Public Presentation event in the spring, there have always been representatives from the school who have qualified. The NYS 4-H Public Presentation event resumed in 2013, and Gow School students once again were represented among those who qualified. This year the state event will be held on Saturday, May 17th, in Morrison Hall on the Cornell campus. If you are interested in participating as an evaluator, please contact Nigel Gannon directly. Using this model, and with campus resources and partners in The Disabilities Institute, NYS 4-H is preparing an initiative focused on supporting county educators in their work with behaviorally and/or intellectually challenged students.

Nigel Gannon is the Healthy Living Program Specialist for New York State 4-H Youth Development. Nigel joined the 4-H State Office team in June 2012. In this position, and in partnership with Cornell Cooperative Extension educators and volunteers, Nigel is promoting a holistic view of health that supports healthy eating, active living, thriving in adolescence, and social-emotional wellness. Nigel has twenty years of experience in education and youth development as an educator, advisor/mentor, and researcher. He earned his doctorate in Sociology from the University of Chicago with a focus on adolescent mental health, secondary education, and urban sociology. He remains a kid at heart.

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