The Rewards of Coaching and Mentoring in Robotics and Math

Daniella_2Daniella Patrick, a BS Mechanical Engineering and MS Mathematics student at NYU-Poly, is a dedicated STEM education leader. She started working with the Center for K12 STEM Education in 2011. Her creative and enthusiastic personality combined with her passion for encouraging K12 students to pursue STEM education have influenced many of the Center’s programs. She has worked directly with students at local partner schools, PAVE Academy and the Urban Assembly Institute (UAI) of Math and Science for Young Women, and on campus with the curriculum development of Science of Smart Cities (SoSC) and with the launch of Applied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering (ARISE).

IMG_5477_1At PAVE Academy, Daniella leads the after-school robotics club, where a group of 10 scholars from 4th to 6th grade are competing for the 2014 First Lego League championship. She is thrilled to be part of the team and said, “To be honest this project might be the most fun I ever had at a job. Getting to see the joy and excitement these students get from LEGO and simple robotics reminds me how I was when I was their age and why I chose a career in Engineering – to build and make cool stuff!” Sometimes it is challenging to explain technical terms in simple ways, but the “A-ha!” moments always come, and Daniella often witnesses her students having fun. “For instance, when the room gets very quiet all of a sudden, I realize they are focusing deeply on building something with their LEGO pieces.”

IMG_5527At UAI, Daniella meets weekly with 16 high school juniors and seniors who are preparing for Regents math exams and taking pre-Calculus courses. In addition to math coaching, Daniella is involved with guiding her students with the college search and application process. She enjoys supporting the students as they gain comfort with math concepts and problems. She reflected, “When I first sat down with these students, many of them told me “I hate Math,” and now I hear encouraging statements such as “I love when it makes sense.” This makes me hope that by the end of the year they will no longer fear the subject and hope to pass the class, but feel confident tackling Mathematical problems, and who knows – maybe even enjoy it!”

IMG_5504Daniella has worked with a range of students from 4th through 12th grade. Her students come from diverse backgrounds in terms of religion, socioeconomic background, origin, and race. They are a hard-working and determined bunch. Daniella described, “I can honestly say I’ve only had the pleasure of working with students that either have an intrinsic passion for learning or an intrinsic drive to learn in order to succeed in life. This makes my work all the more rewarding because I help give these students the little push they need in order to reach their goals, be it to pass a class, win a competition, or be part of a STEM program such as ARISE or SoSC. The students in return not only meet these goals, but often excel in them due to their intrinsic motivation and drive for success.”

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