Written by Mary Cotter ’22
Right before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, I was a member of the 9-10 Allendale Columbia TEAM+S team that included Aidan Wun ‘22, Harmony Palmer ‘23, Chris Smoker ’23, and me, Mary Cotter ’22. We competed in the Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics and Science (TEAM+S) competition, earning the title of NYS Champions! Our win would have earned us a position at the National competition, but this was cancelled due to COVID-19.
The TEAM+S competition encourages students to explore the field of engineering through problem solving and collaboration with their teammates. The theme for the competition this year was improving zoos. This encouraged us to delve into research about solutions to common complaints about zoos, the costs of such solutions, and the environmental impact.
Before the competition, our team wrote an essay responding to the prompt: “Your team is tasked with modifying an existing zoo within your state to develop innovations that would maximize economic, environmental, and/or societal benefits.” We wrote about modifying the Utica Zoo by planting native plant species, installing more energy-efficient appliances, and transforming the zoo into a sanctuary.
Zoo animals, including those at the Utica Zoo, have been observed as “anxious and bored” creating a “depressing” experience for visitors, according to Google Reviews. And it’s easy to see the reason for bored animals and bored children. Utica Zoo attendance has declined in recent years, and the Zoo has suffered financially. The Utica Zoo depends on government bailouts, but our essay outlined a few changes that could transform the Zoo into a healthier environment for the animals and a fun and educational experience for visitors.
On the day of the competition, we worked together on a 90-minute, 80-question multiple choice test. The topics of the questions were centered around the theme and required us to divide the questions based on individual strengths in math, biology, technology, and creative problem-solving. Then we completed the engineering challenge in which we created the lightest crane to lift the most weight to the greatest height. We were given limited time and resources to create our crane.
This competition was very intellectually stimulating and forced us to work collaboratively to find the best solutions to complicated problems. It was a fun way to explore the field of engineering.
Learn More About the Invent Center for STEM and Innovation
Posted in: AC in the News, Authentic Learning, Highlights, Invent, Upper School
Students in our multidisciplinary Upper School course “Production & Design” attended the virtual Adobe Max conference October 20-22. This conference provided students with access to interactive workshops and presentations by Annie Liebovitz, Ava DuVernay, and Tim Allen of VP, Design, Airbnb, and many more. Overall, AC students attended more than 20 different sessions, allowing them to learn alongside, and from, leading industry professionals.
At AC, we constantly strive to offer opportunities for students to learn and grow both in and out of the classroom. Bringing global conferences to our students, despite the pandemic, allows our young leaders to continue to make connections and grow their network of resources. We are grateful for the ability and innovation that makes it possible for our students to attend events such as this and then apply their learnings in the events they are organizing this year in “Production & Design”.
This year, our “Production and Design” students are organizing three major events:
- Best Buddies Gala – AC has had a partnership with Best Buddies, a non-profit organization that supports people in our community with developmental disabilities, for about four years. This year, AC students are working with Best Buddies to create their “Champions Gala”, Best Buddies’ largest fundraiser of the year. In a normal year, their gala would be a traditional in-person event. This year, however, is a bit different, and the event will be held virtually. AC students have the responsibility of filming and editing pre-recorded content for the event, in cooperation with Best Buddies WNY and WROC. AC students are also responsible for creating social media content to promote the event. This is a tremendous opportunity for students to do real and impactful work in the community.
- Heritage Dinner – The Heritage Dinner is an annual AC event to celebrate the cultural diversity and heritage of our AC community. This year’s event will take place virtually the evening of December 10th. Our team of student leaders will create meal boxes for purchase in collaboration with Headwater Food Hub, organize performances, publish a digital cookbook of AC family favorite recipes, and provide participants with cultural resources to make this event a success.
- Now. Here. This. – This year’s Upper School musical theatre production is Hunter Bell, Susan Blackwell, and Jeff Bowen’s Now.Here.This., which has recently been adapted to be “flexible” in these uncertain times. This new flexibility allows for freedom in casting, running time, and performance venue. The adaptation can accommodate casts of 4 to 400 people of all genders, races, and sexual orientation, and can be performed live or online. This means that all students can be involved, whether they are learning remotely or in person! This exciting project is being filmed and produced by AC students, who are currently in the storyboarding stage. Auditions took place last week, and cast members are starting to learn material and prepare for recording and filming. The production will be shown in a live-streamed event on January 22nd, 2021.
Here is what our students have to say about the Adobe MAX Conference…
In “Adobe Spark: How to Build Cross-Team Collaboration” they began by introducing themselves and what they do with Adobe Spark currently. They then went on to explain how you should build a team where everyone has different strengths and weaknesses so the team members can focus on using their strengths to the fullest, instead of focusing on building up their weaknesses. Next, they gave a demo on how to create brands and libraries in Spark that you can share with multiple people to help with the consistency of branding and marketing. They then explain how you can share your projects with other people if you want to co-edit. I learned how to use the Creative Cloud libraries in both Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator instead of just in Spark. Before this session, I was downloading the files then adding them to my libraries on Spark. I also learned that Adobe Spark is working on Brand sharing which is also very exciting because this is what we were looking to do for Best Buddies.
The presentation I attended was called “Editing Faster and Smarter in Premiere Pro — Part 1.” The video started off by explaining how to string different clips together. She also went over different shortcut keys and how to make your own shortcuts. I learned a lot of different keys to make my editing go by quicker like how to quickly divide clips, rewind, play, and move bits up and down. I also learned how to create my own shortcuts. I generally thought that the conference was pretty good, and I liked that I could rewind and rewatch segments if I didn’t understand something.
Now. Here. This. – Production Manager
One of the sessions I attended was called “Video in the Spotlight”. I watched the portion of the conference that showcased Ava DuVernay and Zendaya. Ava DuVernay talked about her filming process, and she gave a lot of advice saying that if you want to make a film, you should just do it, and it doesn’t take a lot. One thing that really stuck with me was how she talked about her climb to success. She explained how instead of pushing to get in the room with the big directors, she built herself a room and made the most of it, and that’s how she became successful. Zendaya talked about fashion and film that inspires her, and she talked about how she stayed creative during the quarantine.
Heritage Dinner- External Partner Coordinator
I attended the conference called “Quick tips for creating the most engaging social media videos.” Amber Torrealba was the speaker. I would say that it was about thinking ahead of time, using what you have, being creative, how to create the best videos, and sticking out. I learned about the importance of the first five seconds, lighting, audio, transitioning, planning, words/titles/captions, and to always keep creating. One thing I would change about her presentation would be adding more of the content she has created to show more examples and see other styles besides hers that also are engaging social media videos.
Best Buddies – Social Media Content Designer
I attended a session by Zachary Silverstein and Stephanie Newcomb in which they showed off some of the features of Adobe Spark. I learned how to change the style of text, animate a graphic, add a background, and delete the background of a picture. These things will be very useful to me as I continue to create social media content for the upcoming Best Buddies Virtual Gala, and in life, as I need to use Adobe Spark to create marketing content. If I could change anything about this presentation, it would be to allow viewers to play along with Spark as the hosts do. I think that this would make for a better learning experience.
Now. Here. This. – Logistics, Social Media
I learned that you can’t become better or do better without the help of others. Even if you think you reached your max limit, you have so much more potential. When it comes to making our own content, we have to know our community, our audience, and what they want/desire. It is important to become comfortable with your audience and maintain a formal relationship with co-workers and people you are making content for. Be respectful. Be confident in your expertise as the leader of our own online community. Build business relationships based on trust and good experiences.
Heritage Dinner- Marketing and Content Creator
In the conference I attended each speaker spoke a bit about their life and inspiration for art. Each artist had a different style and thought about their artwork. They talked about what their artwork means to them as well as what it means to other people. They also talked about grabbing their audience’s attention with just a simple poster or painting. I learned about the importance of color in artwork and how to be able to tell how other people will interact with your artwork.
In this conference, the leader took the audience through examples of how to begin the editing process as an introduction to Premiere Pro. He used different clips that were provided by Adobe that you could follow along with. I learned a lot of cool tips and tricks about Premiere Pro that will definitely help me in the future. One example of these tips was when he showed us how to organize files and frame a timeline in file form before you actually start working on the timeline. This makes the process of editing the actual clips together a lot easier because now you don’t have to stumble around in search of a specific clip the whole time. The one thing that turned me off from the presentation was the fact that he never actually played the clips he was editing. He would show the files before he put them in the timeline, but after, he would simply drag the marker along without showing what the edit looked like. If I were to change something about this presentation, I would have played the clips for the audience to see fully.
Best Buddies- Video recording, editing, and design
In the conference I attended the presenter talked about how too many creative people just fall into their positions rather than going for the position they want. He talked about some common career paths for people to follow. I found it interesting that he recommended creative producers be open to any position they might be good at, like a CEO or someone on the business side. I did not think that creative people would want to be CEO, but when you think about it, it makes sense. We need more creative business leaders. He did a excellent job, and his presentation made sense and was well thought out.
Best Buddies – Social Media Logistics Lead
I watched “Creating Great Images With Your Phone Part 1”. In this session Katrin Eissman spoke about Adobe Lightroom which is basically a professional photo editing app for iphones. She showed us her phone while using adobe Lightroom. She showed us all of the cool features that the app has to offer such as changing the exposure of the photos (which I liked the most about the app) and changing the different tones of the photo. I learned a lot about this new app, and I am even thinking about downloading it on my own phone because of how useful it is for professional photo taking. I learned that the better quality the photo (the more professional it appears) the more pleasing to the eye it is thus, the more appreciation for the photo.
Tony TepedinoSince starting at Allendale Columbia in 1994, Tony has taken on many different roles. He has coached a variety of sports, including Varsity Girls' Basketball and Varsity Golf. He taught physical education for seven years, kindergarten for seven years, and served as the Director of Curricular Technology for five years. Tony is currently serving as a faculty member in the Center for Entrepreneurship where he teaches electives for both middle and upper school students. He is also the Faculty Professional Learning Coordinator and C0-creator of TEDxAllendaleColumbiaSchool. Recently, Tony was Co-chair of the NYSAIS Accreditation Steering Committee and is a member of the Upper School Student Success Team responsible for Student Life. Tony was also the Program Coordinator for the Iraqi Youth Leadership Exchange Program (IYLEP). He holds a master’s degree in Education from Roberts Wesleyan College. Tony is the proud father of two children, Gabi and Trip. He enjoys hiking, reading, travel, cooking, and learning about new things.
If you could do any job in the world besides what you do now, what would it be?
I would co-host the T.V. show Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Fieri. Who wouldn't enjoy touring the country discovering the best food places and sharing that with the world?!
Amy OliveriAmy has been a part of the Allendale Columbia Art Department since the fall of 2010 and serves as Director of the AC Center for Creativity & Entrepreneurship. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Illustration and a Concentration in ASL as well as a Master of Science Degree for Teachers in Art Education from the Rochester Institute of Technology.
Amanda Meldrum-StevensonAmanda holds a Bachelor of Science in Music Therapy from SUNY Fredonia, has studied Vocal Performance and Music Education at Eastman School of Music, and is currently completing a master’s in Creative Arts Therapy at Nazareth College. She brings experience as a board-certified music therapist, rehabilitation therapist, private voice instructor, and youth community musical theatre director. At AC, Amanda manages and directs the Upper School musicals and plays, teaches Upper School theatre classes, leads the Boys Ensemble, and teaches Middle School music electives and Drama Foundations.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Eleventh Grade, Entrepreneurship, Events & Workshops, Highlights, Invent, Ninth Grade, Partnerships, Tenth Grade, Twelfth Grade, Upper School
This was an exciting month for AC – we published our first issue of Research & Discovery: AC’s Journal of Student Inquiry!
This publication showcases the work of students who completed independent research projects in STEM in our Science, Writing and Research course. Unique to this area, and to secondary school in general, this class challenges students to learn about the process of scientific research by gaining fluency with scientific literature and then completing a project of their own creation. Finally, students present their work at a formal academic symposium with other students at the undergraduate level.
Faculty member Travis Godkin, who designed the program said, “This is a class that I had been thinking about for a long time, and I am thrilled to have the opportunity and freedom to do this at AC! Helping students through this entire process has been incredibly rewarding, and I think they have gained an experience that is not typically available to students outside of college. I strive to create authentic learning experiences in my classes, and this experience represents the pinnacle of that endeavor.”
Even more unique is a publication of student research and inquiry at the secondary level that is of the same quality as a professional scientific journal. Students analyzed their own data, compiled and wrote their own papers, and prepared them for publication. The cover was also designed by Ava Gouvernet, Class of 2020.
“We are so excited that we have the opportunity to share student work in STEM at the same level as scientific professionals,” said Maya Crosby, Director of the Invent Center for STEM & Innovation at AC. “Mr. Godkin and his students have done amazing work!”
“Thank you to the communications department at Allendale Columbia and to Amy Oliveri, for all their help in preparing our publication for print.”
Maya CrosbyMaya earned her Bachelor of Science Degree at the University of Rochester, where she studied science and communications, and then worked in biotech and scientific publishing. While at the University of Maine for a Master of Science degree in marine microbiology, she loved being a teaching fellow so much that she shifted her focus to fostering science education and experiences for all students. After several years of teaching science, computer science, and technology, she became the Director of Innovation and Technology at Lincoln Academy in Newcastle, Maine. She also brings experience as a Developmental Biology and Microbiology Instructor at Bowdoin College, an Education Coordinator at the Gulf of Maine Foundation, a Science Editor for Blackwell Science, and a Research Technician for ImmuLogic Pharmaceuticals.
Posted in: Authentic Learning, Centers for Impact, Highlights, Invent, Upper School
Since 2015, February 11th has been recognized as “International Day of Women and Girls in Science”— a day aimed at ensuring full and equal access to, and participation in, science for women and girls.
At AC, however, students of all genders have full and equal access to STEM every day. Starting in our Lower School curriculum, STEM is a piece of every unit and is tightly integrated across K-5. As students advance to Middle and Upper School, our curriculum allows for an even deeper study of the sciences.
Did you know, AC offers science electives, including:
- AP Computer Science A
- Video Game Design
- AP Computer Science Programming
- AP Biology
- AP Chemistry
- Science Writing and Research
- Biochemistry of the Cell
- Human Disease
Over the course of just three years, enrollment in AC’s STEM electives has gone from 100% male to approximately 50% male and 50% female. In fact, this year’s enrollment in our culminating science course, Science Writing and Research, is comprised almost entirely of females, with only one male enrolled.
Maya Crosby, Director of the AC Invent Center for STEM and Innovation, recently said, “The key to getting more females interested in science isn’t just having more female teachers in STEM. It is an identity you’re trying to build. Students build their formative ideas of what a scientist is over time, and it is not just what they look like and how to act, it has to do with their [the student’s] confidence level and personal interests.”
This is no different from AC’s overall philosophy of making students feel like they belong here. Our teachers inspire students and build their confidence to make them believe that yes, they can do math and science and become a mathematician or scientist.
If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.
An integral and unique part of AC’s STEM program is our focus on authentic and individualized learning. These opportunities not only provide teachers with a variety of ways to measure student progress, and thus remove gender and race bias, but they also allow our students to actively see and do the things they are learning about. This year alone, students have had the opportunity to participate in partnerships with RIT and U of R to dig deeper into their study of STEM topics and career paths.
“I am a science and technology evangelist,” said Crosby. “It’s my passion to get people excited about all things STEM and make fresh connections to the science and technology in their daily lives. It was evident before I even walked through the door that AC was a special and unique place. I am thankful for my incredibly talented and accomplished colleagues and the atmosphere of encouragement and confidence we are building around STEM for our students.”
Get to know AC’s inspirational women in STEM
“I am not a woman in science. I am a scientist.” — Donna Strickland
Allendale Columbia School was recently ranked as one of Newsweek’s Top 5,000 STEM High Schools in America. More than 30,000 high schools in the country were analyzed over a three-year period to determine the rankings. Newsweek, with its long history of reporting on scientific breakthroughs, technological revolutions and societal challenges, partnered with STEM.or to rank America’s Best STEM High Schools.
Recent AC STEM Activities
NASA Thanks AC Sixth Grade Citizen Scientists for Their Research
AC sixth graders just completed a month-long citizen science project through NASA’s GLOBE Program, recording more than 330 cloud observations. On December 17th, the class virtually met with NASA Education Specialist Marile Colon Robles who thanked the students for their work and reiterated the importance their cloud data plays in NASA’s on-going studies. Read more
“Girls Who Code” Club Represent AC at Rochester Maker Faire
This past November, Allendale Columbia School was a sponsor at the Rochester Maker Faire, where our “Girls Who Code” club taught visitors how to make brush bots and paper circuits. Read more
AC Robotics Teams Compete at Local FIRST Robotics Competitions
Four AC robotics teams recently competed in local FIRST robotics competitions. Representing the lower school in the FIRST Lego Robotics City Shaper challenge, were the “Wolf Pack” and the “Lightning Boltz”, led by AC faculty member Donna Chaback. Teresa Parsons, with the help of AC parent John Palomaki, led our middle school team, the “AC Aces”, while the upper school team, “Team 11779”, led by Phil Schwartz and Maya Crosby, competed in the FIRST Tech Challenge. Read more
Second Graders Learn About Cities by Meeting with a City Planner and Building Their Own!
Second graders met with Manager of Special Projects for the City of Rochester, Erik Frisch to discuss different transportation systems and learn more about the City of Rochester as they planned and created their own city, Birchville. Read more
AC-RIT Collaboration Continues to Thrive and Enrich Learning Opportunities for Students
Students in Math 7, Math 8, Algebra I, and Honors Algebra II continue to participate in a series of classes with RIT. Most recently, students conducted a color absorption experiment using RIT’s light equipment, and they have also recently learned about cryptography and the use ciphers to create and crack codes. Read more
This past November, Allendale Columbia School was a sponsor at the Rochester Maker Faire, where our “Girls Who Code” club taught visitors how to make “brush bots” and paper circuits. The students guided participants through the process of building “brush bots” made from tooth brushes, a small vibrating motor, and fun decorations. “I had a lot of fun watching and helping kids make their brush bots,” said AC student Harmony Palmer. “I loved watching their smile grow as their bots moved and helping them helped me learn things as well.”
“Girls Who Code” was established by members of the upper school AC Codex club (Liza Cotter ’20, Anna Blake ’20, Mary Cotter ’22, and Harmony Palmer ’23) as a way to develop their coding skills, while sharing their experience with younger students through mentorship.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with younger girls because I see a lot of my younger self in them. I’m glad I can support these girls to explore something new that they could become passionate about,” said Mary Cotter ’22. The lower school girls seem equally pleased with the collaboration saying, “We love working with the upper school girls because they will help us if we don’t understand what to do, but they don’t do the work for us.”
The club has future plans to participate in various coding competitions, including Lockheed Martin’s CodeQuest later in the year.
Four AC robotics teams recently competed in local FIRST robotics competitions. Representing the Lower School in the FIRST Lego Robotics City Shaper challenge, were the “Wolf Pack” and the “Lightning Boltz”, led by AC faculty member Donna Chaback. Teresa Parsons, with the help of AC parent John Palomaki, led our middle school team, the “AC Aces”, while the upper school team, “Team 11779”, led by Phil Schwartz and Maya Crosby, competed in the FIRST Tech Challenge.
The “Lightning Boltz” team received the Rising Star award at the competition. This award is given to rookie teams that show promise to go on and do great things. Nice job Boltz!
The “AC Aces” alliance lost their semi-finals match to the eventual tournament champions. It was an excellent first run of the year, and we look forward to participating in the Corning Qualifying event on January 12th.
“Team 11779” had a successful event, participating in the final qualifying matches with teams that consistently qualify for the state level tournaments.