- This is Poly
Poly Prep offered two exciting computer science courses this summer, each taught by NYU graduate students, who are expert in their fields. This new summer program was a continuation of a growing relationship. In the last academic year, Poly benefited greatly from the support of members of the NYU community, from inspiring trips to visit their MakerSpace and touring NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering to having graduate students mentor our Robotics Team.
At Poly, the program was led by Jean Belford P’24, ’30, Director, Chair of the Computer and Information Science Department and Kristin Guynn, Manager, Upper and Middle School Computer Science teacher and Robotics coach. About 15 Poly students participated.
The two courses offered were described as:
Basics of Robotics Problem-Solving (Grades 6-8)
In this introductory robotics course, students will learn the fundamentals of robotics, the various facets and applications of the field, and problem-solving techniques rooted in system engineering. Student learning will be enabled by working on small intuitive projects and through interactive class discourse that prioritizes creative thinking and harnesses that creativity to solve/address future case study events. The course will also cover robot design and construction, control systems, sensors and actuators, and programming languages commonly used in robotics.
The instructor was Ajey Jagannathan, an international graduate student at NYU pursuing his master’s in Mechatronics and Robotics.
Intro to Cybersecurity (Grades 9-11)
We will discuss key terms used in the field, why and how attacks are executed, attacker motives, and methods of defense. We will focus on day-to-day threats, from cell phones to WiFi at home. The goal is to learn cybersecurity fundamentals and their application in the world. Lastly, we will discuss career opportunities in the field, from protecting home networks to national security. Through a series of lectures and small projects, students will compile their work into a final project presentation to add to their portfolio.
The instructor was Ashley Simons, a New York native pursuing her Cybersecurity MS at NYU Tandon School of Engineering.
Samara C. ’28, who will be an eighth grader this fall, took the Robotics course. “This program has made me excited and more interested in joining the Robotics team at Poly,” Samara said afterward. “It really was the push that I needed. So if I have another opportunity to do something similar to this program during the school year, I would be interested in that as well.”
Visiting NYU was also a great experience for Samara. “I had a lot of fun learning about the new places and programs there,” she said. Her group collaborated on a robot. “For our project we chose animal robot companions and we did a whole presentation about it. Though it was kind of nerve-racking to present in front of people that go to NYU and work there, I did have fun doing it and getting suggestions and feedback from some of the NYU students.”
Belford explained how these classes were different from those already offered during the school year. “These courses were taught by NYU grad students who are currently studying robotics and cybersecurity,” Belford said. “Because the instructors are at the forefront of research, latest developments, and can offer examples of recent applications of tech in their given field, students were afforded foundational learning coupled with complex perspectives during this two-week intensive. We traveled to NYU Tandon School of Engineering each of the two Fridays, and those visits helped Poly students to connect what they are learning in their Middle and Upper School classes to programs offered at the university level.”
On the first Friday, students attended a presentation and discussion with Tandon School of Engineering’s Admissions Department followed by a lunch and a school tour. The two-week program culminated on the second Friday visit to NYU with students presenting projects to teachers, parents, and NYU graduate students.
Belford explained that “during the spring of 2022, Kristin Guynn introduced Poly’s inFInite STEM cohort to Nicole Johnson, Tandon’s Chief Inclusivity Officers and the Assistant Dean for Opportunity Initiatives and Programs. Since then, Ms. Johnson and her office have worked tirelessly with Poly to help provide support to our CIS Department, Robotics Team, inFInite STEM cohort, and this latest Summer & CS program. Poly and NYU share similar values around building inclusive computer science communities so our collaborations have felt aligned and organic from the start!”
Belford added, “We are so pleased to announce that during the 2023-24 school year, not only will NYU graduate students continue to mentor our Robotics team, but we will have two Middle School electives co-taught by NYU graduate students, as well.”