At first, the 25 kids who stood before Zac Carrico, like so many others across the country on a Friday afternoon, were hyped up and in almost constant motion.
They joked with one another, calling each other “nerds.” However, that all changed once Carrico, a teacher at the Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery BOCES Career and Technical Education Center in Johnstown, stood in front of the class and spoke to them about careers as engineering technicians.
The boys and girls stood in near silence as Carrico explained that engineering technicians, especially those working with microchips, earn as much as $55,000 a year.
The kids ranged from sixth- to 11th-graders and were students at either Lynch Middle School or Amsterdam High School. They were bused over by Centro Civico, the local Latino not-for-profit organization, for a special class from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
HFM BOCES Director Jay A. DeTraglia's hope is that bringing in students from places like Amsterdam will inspire more girls and minorities to work in fields dealing with science, technology, engineering and mathematics. According to a study published by the National Science Foundation in 2013, women and some minorities are underrepresented in science and engineering. According to the report, occupations in engineering and science are “largely white and male.”
At BOCES, the students followed Carrico’s directions as they did an activity attaching a basic electronic circuit with an LED onto a piece of acrylic. By pressing a small button on the tiny device — which also had a Centro Civico logo on it — the lights would flash on.
On Monday, some of the students who had gone to BOCES met up at Centro Civico. Carrico was with them, and so was Fabrizia Rodriguez, director of community development initiative for Centro Civico. Since it was the last day of afterschool tutoring, which is led by SUNY interns, the students ate snacks and talked about their experiences at BOCES. Some kept clicking on the little button and watched as the lights flashed on and off.
“It made me want to like science more,” said Kashon Tuff, 12. “I like technology and how everything works.”
He beamed as he explained the process of creating the little device that would light up.
“I like science. I like to use my imagination,” said Lucas Tepan, 13.
He especially liked the activities and science taught at BOCES because they let him see how something was made.
“I like how you can make the smallest things into something bigger,” he said.
Similarly, Giovanie Adorno, 14, enjoyed the activity and likes science and engineering.
“I really like to work hands-on with things,” Adorno said.
Tanisha Maldonado, 16 , also liked observing the activity.
“I like to see how things are made,” she said.
Maldonado plans to go to college and is interested in studying either forensics or engineering.
DeTraglia said BOCES hopes to do more of these activities in the near future to bring in and more students and spur further interest in science and engineering.