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WNYRIC is Part of First-Ever STEAM Day at Rochester Maker FaireThe WNYRIC team of volunteers sits on the stairs in front of the

The Rochester Mini Maker Faire grew in size by one day this year, thanks in part to the Western New York Regional Informational Center (WNYRIC). For the first time in the event’s five-year history the newly dubbed Maker Faire Rochester held a STEAM day for students in grades 3-8 on Friday, Nov. 16.

Since the beginning WNYRIC has had a connection to the state’s largest mini maker faire. Staff Development Coordinator Antonio Scordo III is one of the founding organizers and has been on the NYSCATE Fall Conference Committee since March of 2014 as a Co-Chair for the Maker Faire event.

“My first experience with a maker faire was in bringing my own children to the Buffalo Mini Maker Faire. I wanted to bring the smiles I saw on their faces to more children and adults, to see students having fun learning about science, technology, engineering, arts and math,” Scordo explained. “This year, I wanted to step things up and I proposed a ‘Student STEAM Fest.’ To my surprise NYSCATE and Make: magazine approved the idea.”

For the past five years WNYRIC has allowed Scordo and other staff volunteers to attend the event. This year, the RIC’s participation also stepped up and a team of 20 staff members attended to supplement the inaugural Student STEAM Fest activities. Scordo plans the logistics of the event, from mapping to scheduling and set up to tear down.  Other staff development coordinators assisted with hands-on learning opportunities like make your own ice cream, lemon juice invisible ink, squishy circuits, robotics, and fun with oobleck (non-Newtonian cornstarch and water combination).

“One of our goals at WNYRIC is to maximize the quality of instruction and to improve learning. Our staff development coordinators work to do that every day in classrooms across 100 school districts in western New York. This event takes STEAM integration in the classroom to the next level and we at WNYRIC are proud to promote this opportunity for students,” Director of Instructional Technology Resources and Professional Development Elizabeth M. Freas said.

The day was filled with nearly 95 makers focused on STEAM and over 1,200 students from 50 classrooms in 28 school districts having fun learning concepts from coding to culinary arts, civic engagement to sustainability and do-it-yourself to design.

Students also were treated to the magic of science at a performance by Jason Latimer, curator of the Fleet Science Center in San Diego, Calif. and a multi-award winning magician.

“The Student STEAM Fest was a wonderful celebration of everything creative. Again today I got to see students come away feeling inspired with smiles on their faces. Fostering that sense of wonder and curiosity is the best part of my job and this event,” Scordo said.

Liz Freas assists two students with oobleck, non-Newtonian cornstarch and water.  Valentina Rinow-Ess helps a student with oobleck at Maker Faire Rochester.  Brittany Thoma shows students how to solder wires to make a flashlight.  Scott Przywara helps two students with assembling Tinkerbots.

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