STEM Research Institute


This program – founded at Columbia University in 1990 and at Questar III BOCES in 2014 – provides an opportunity for secondary school STEM teachers to work side-by-side with researchers to conduct authentic scientific research in an area related to the courses they teach.

The hands-on experience includes paid summer lab work at local research facilities, professional development time to create lessons and a second-year mentor program.

The program was originally founded by Dr. Samuel Silverstein, John C. Dalton Professor of Physiology and cellular Biophysics and Professor of medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. In early 2014, Dr. Silverstein visited Questar III to discuss the program, its impact, and ways it can be expanded into our region. Since being founded in 1990, the program at Columbia University has helped to train New York City science teachers in research techniques and led to improved practice in the classroom and increased scores on Regents Exams in science.

Research shows the program has significantly enhanced the interest and proficiency of students in the classrooms of participating teachers, as well as increased teachers interest and proficiency in science. There are also clear cost savings since fewer students are repeating mandated science courses and assessments needed to graduate.

Teachers study video game development

Vicarious Visions hosted six teachers from three districts, and insights gained from the internship will be used to develop a course in video game development.

Summer STEM Q&A – Sam Ziebel, North Colonie CSD

In his second year in the program, Sam Ziebel is working at NYS DOH Wadsworth lab studying the effects of nitrous acid on the environment.

Summer STEM Q&A – Micaela Ethier

Ethier teaches high school geometry at Shenendehowa CSD. She is spending her summer working at National Grid in our Summer STEM Research Institute.

Summer STEM Q&A – Nathan Porter

Nathan Porter teaches Physics and Computer Science at Maple Hill High School in Schodack and he is part of our first cohort of teachers working with Vicarious Visions.

Summer STEM Q&A: Valerie Gordon, East Greenbush CSD

East Greenbush CSD Art Teacher Valerie Gordon is working with Vicarious Visions this summer through our Summer STEM Research Institute.

Summer STEM Q&A: Karyn Rees, Averill Park CSD

Karyn Rees is spending her first summer in the STEM Research Program working at SUNY Polytechnic Institute studying nano microscopes.

Summer STEM Q&A: Dawn Wetmore, Berlin CSD

In her first year in the Summer STEM Research Institute, Dawn Wetmore of Berlin CSD is researching and programming autonomous fuel cell dispensaries.

Recognizing our STEM Research Institute Partners

On Dec. 6, we recognized teachers and business partners who took part in our Summer STEM Research Institute this summer.

STEM Research Institute hosts Congressman Paul Tonko

On Wednesday, August 15, Congressman Paul Tonko met with teachers, mentors and business partners from Questar III’s STEM Research Institute.

Summer STEM Q&A – Tom Guile, Coxsackie-Athens CSD

In his second year in the Summer STEM Research Institute, Coxsackie-Athens CSD Teacher Tom Guile is working at SUNY Polytechnic Institute studying electricity and light.

2019 Participants:

Caitlin Colwell (1st year) English, Schodack CSD
Vicarious Visions

Jason Defrias (1st year) English, East Greenbush CSD
Vicarious Visions

Matt Duff (1st year) Technology, Averill Park CSD
Vicarious Visions

Micaela Ethier (1st year) Math, Shenendehowa CSD
National Grid

Valerie Gordon (1st year) Art, East Greenbush CSD
Vicarious Visions

Christopher McDermith (1st year), Technology, Schodack CSD
Vicarious Visions

Brian McDonnell (1st year) Technology, Catskill CSD

Mike McGillycuddy (1st year) Construction Technologies, Questar III BOCES
MMC Millworks

Terry Miller (1st year) Math, Averill Park CSD
Vicarious Visions

Nate Porter (3rd year) Technology, Coding, Physics, Schodack CSD
Vicarious Visions

Karyn Rees (1st year) Physics, Averill Park CSD
SUNY Polytechnic Institute

Tim Ryan (2nd year) Math, Computer Science, Schodack CSD

Judith Selig (1st year) Science – Biology, Ballston Spa CSD
Hudson Valley Community College

Erin Sharkey (1st year) Science – Biology, Greenville CSD

Dawn Wetmore (1st year) Technology, Berlin CSD
Plug Power

Sam Ziebel (2nd year) Science – Chemistry, Troy CSD
Wadsworth Center

Read more about why Questar III has implemented this program here.

See a full list of past cohorts here.

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