Category Archives: K-12 Education

Volunteer Judges Needed for 15th Environmental Challenge


CNY students learn more about science, with a little help from ESF students

SUEugeneNY-ESF graduate students help strengthen science learning in Syracuse city schools. Read more.

New Year – New Opportunites

Dear Friends, Collaborators, and Participants –

The New Year is a time for reflection and planning, and an opportunity to personally thank each of you who honor us with your ongoing active partnership and support.

This past year, ESF’s outreach included educational programs and technical services that engaged the College with a broad array of constituents. ESF faculty, staff and students, along with our partners, continued to pursue a diverse range of programs and projects that include on- and off-campus, online, credit and non-credit, and formal and informal learning opportunities for professionals, elementary through high school students, ESF students, and lifelong learners. ESF’s outreach supports environmental, educational, social and economic development in ways that advance both the public good and the College’s mission.

ESF in the High School, a concurrent enrollment program, for example, entails formal partnerships between ESF and high schools in Rochester, New York City and throughout Central /Upstate New York. Last year this program enabled well over 600 students to experience college-level work and to explore STEM and related academic and career opportunities. ESF in the High School also provides high-caliber STEM professional development opportunities for participating teachers.

ESF’s several professional education conferences and workshops continue to engage participants from communities of practice and scholarship in geographical communities near and far. One ongoing four-day workshop hosted by the Sustainable Construction Management and Engineering academic program recently engaged participants from Canada and eleven states, including Texas!

Three professional educational programs last year benefited the Central New York Community by generating a combined economic impact of nearly $300,000.

One initiative, the Radiation Curing Program (RCP) represents a truly 21st Century business/academic/public sector collaboration and a fully distributed online instructional approach that serves professionals and students throughout the U.S. and around the world.

As we look ahead to this New Year, please explore with us an ever more exciting calendar of programs to be held here in Central New York, at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, and in our virtual world. And please join us in recognizing and celebrating all of our partnerships, including those with the NYS DEC, with Rick Fedrizzi and the U.S. Green Building Council, the SUNY Research Foundation, and the Syracuse Center of Excellence (to mention just a few).

I believe that, together with our ESF faculty, staff, students and alumni, we all have an opportunity to truly fulfill ESF’s outreach and service mission and, in turn, to make positive educational, professional, and economic differences in our communities and in our world.
Please contact us with your thoughts and questions – we look forward to working with you.

I wish you a productive and enjoyable New Year.

Dr. Chuck Spuches, Associate Provost for Outreach

ESF Science Corps Invites Nominations and Applications

SUNY-ESF’s STEM Mentoring Initiative to Strengthen the Education Pipeline is accepting nominations and applications from ESF graduate students to participate in the Spring 2015 program.  As a STEM Mentor, graduate students in the Science Corps serve as front-line role models for Syracuse City School District middle school students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).  Participating mentors bring STEM content, research expertise, and passion to in-school learning activities.

Learn more about this NSF-funded program and apply online at Contact Brandon Murphy at or (315)470-6979/6817 for more information.

Please join us in congratulating the Fall 2014 Science Corps and their academic advisors:

  • Funmi Alfelumo, Environmental and Forest Biology, Dr. Lee Newman, advisor.
  • Adriana Beltrani, Environmental Science, Dr. Margaret Bryant, advisor.
  • Sophie Finlayson-Schueler, Environmental Science, Dr. Margaret Bryant, advisor.
  • Jacqueline Gerson, Syracuse University, Dr. Charles Driscoll, advisor.
  • Chengyan Jing, Paper and Bioprocess Engineering, Dr. Biljana Bujanovic, advisor.
  • Joshua Karchin, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Dr. Stewart Loh, advisor.
  • Rebecca Meissner, Environmental Resource Engineering, Dr. Stephen Shaw, advisor.
  • Sarah Mount, Environmental and Forest Biology, Dr. Karin Limburg, advisor.
  • Amber Papillion, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Dr. Gary Winslow, advisor.
  • Noah Pasqua-Godkin, Environmental Science, Dr. Klaus Doelle, advisor.
  • Desmaris Tyler, Environmental and Forest Biology, Dr. William Powell, advisor.

Local High School Recognizes SUNY-ESF

ESM Award 2014

ESF Outreach’s Brandon Murphy and Rick Beal, as well as ESF faculty members Klaus Dolle and Rafaat Hussein, were honored by the East Syracuse-Minoa Central School District with a Partnership for Learning award. For four years, ESF has partnered with East Syracuse-Minoa through the ESF in the High School program. This partnership also includes research at the Village of Minoa’s Cleanwater Educational Research Facility.

In this program, students apply knowledge gained from two college level courses to real world problems. Following the curriculum in the Global Environment and Alternative Energy courses, students engage in research on various topics, including compost energy efficiency and aquaculture systems. One such project analyzes the ability of different compost materials to heat a greenhouse through the winter.

This award was presented by John and Pamela Herrington, two ESF alumni who work with Outreach in the ESF in the High School program. Congratulations to Rick Beal, Brandon Murphy, and the entire ESF in the High School team!

ESF’s STEM Mentor Program Announces 2014 Mentors

SUNY-ESF’s STEM Mentoring Initiative to Strengthen the Education Pipeline program has selected its first group of ESF graduate students who will mentor and serve as front-line role models for Syracuse middle school students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects and careers. Participating mentors will become part of the ESF Science Corps and will bring STEM content, research expertise and passion to learning activities through afterschool programs. The Spring 2014 Corps will include

  • Funmi Afelumo, M.S. Student, Environmental and Forest Biology, (Dr. Lee Newman, Major Professor)
  • Joelle Chille Cale, M.S. Student, Environmental and Forest Biology, (Dr. Melissa Fierke, Major Professor)
  • Laura Coberly, M.S. Student, Environmental Science, (Dr. David Sonnenfeld, Major Professor)
  • Kaira T. Fuentes-Viera, Ph.D. Student , Environmental Science, (Drs. Klaus Doelle & Rafaat Hussein, Co-major Professors)
  • Vignesh Gnanavel, M.S. Student, Bioprocess Engineering, (Dr. Ramarao Bandaru, Major Professor)
  • Melisa Keskin, M.P.S. Student, Environmental Resource Engineering (Dr. Lindi Quackenbush, Major Professor)
  • Danielle Kloster, M.S. Student, Environmental Science, (Dr. Tim Volk, Major Professor)
  • Eugene Law, M.S. Student, Environmental Science, (Dr. Stewart Diemont, Major Professor)
  • Rasheed Lucas, M.S. Student, Environmental Science (Professor Emanuel Carter, Major Professor)
  • Jonathan Masih Das, Ph.D. Student, Environmental Science, (Dr. Wendong Tao, Major Professor)
  • Qing Ren, M.S. Student, Environmental and Forest Biology, (Dr. Elizabeth Folta, Major Professor)
  • Sara Velardi, M.S. Student, Environmental and Forest Biology, (Dr. Elizabeth Folta, Major Professor)


Learn more at

The Environmental Challenge Science Fair

On March 14, 2012, Syracuse city school district 7th and 8th grade students transformed the Carrier Dome and ESF campus into a buzz of scientific exploration when they presented their science projects in the 11th Environmental Challenge Science Fair hosted by SUNY-ESF Outreach. About 300 projects focused around the theme “Science Around Central New York” were presented by 500 students and judged by more than 100 volunteers who represented public, private, non-profit, and educational organizations from throughout Central New York. The Environmental Challenge aims to encourage scientific research, exploration of science-based careers, and an understanding of the connection between urban and global environments. For more about this year’s Environmental Challenge, see the event website at

Congratulations and thank you to Brandon Murphy, Rick Beal, Sharon Weis, and the rest of the team for their hard work putting together this year’s incredibly successful Environmental Challenge.

For this and other SUNY-ESF Outreach activities, visit us on the web at

Lessons from Onondaga Lake: ESF in the High School Teachers Gather for Watershed Observation and Investigation

The recent ESF in the High School Teacher Professional Development Symposium hosted by ESF Outreach at Willow Bay Park in Liverpool, NY, brought together enthusiastic ESF in the High School teachers on June 23, 2011.  Willow Bay Pavilion provided a scenic gathering point along the shoreline of Onondaga Lake, immersing participants in an atmosphere of hands-on-learning and observation.  According to Dr. Richard Beal, Assistant Dean of Educational Outreach at SUNY ESF, such events provide an opportunity for teachers to develop content for courses and generate excitement about science.

ESF Outreach is home to a range of professional development programs, each drawing on undergraduate and graduate educational and research experience of ESF faculty, students and staff, as well as professionals from a variety of local and state organizations.  Through attending professional development events held throughout the year, ESF in the High School teachers broaden their knowledge base and share lesson plans and teaching outcomes with one another to ultimately better serve their students.

The June program began with an engaging presentation by ESF graduate student Matt Brincka entitled Onondaga Lake and Its Aquatic Ecosystems.  Participants analyzed fish biodiversity within Onondaga Lake by using a net to pull a variety of fish species out of the water to be surveyed.  The net pull was followed by discussion on fish identification and characteristics, and also noted changes in fish populations inhabiting the lake over time.  Such topics enrich and shape future content for ESF in the High School courses, providing teachers with hands-on activities for student involvement.

Additional presentations included History of Pollution at Onondaga Lake, presented by Mike Spada, Research Scientist, Upstate Freshwater Institute; an Onondaga Lake mapping activity directed by Sarah Wraight, Staff Writer, Onondaga Environmental Institute; and Introduction to Green Infrastructure in CNY, presented by ESF graduate students Michelle Molloy and Nathan Ogdahl and undergraduate student Michelle Meyer.  The program concluded with a tour of 515 Tully Street in Syracuse, NY, the home of a beautiful and vivacious residential rain garden, miniature demonstration green roof, two rain barrels, and porous paving.  Dawn Adams, a Global Environment instructor from Pavilion High School, became the proud winner of a free rain barrel following a brief ‘pop-quiz’ as the program came to a close.  Ms. Adams plans on bringing the rain barrel back to Pavilion to show her students with the hope of installing it on campus.

Photos of this Teacher Professional Development Symposium can be found on the ESF Outreach Facebook page:!/media/set/?set=a.219385004767749.57476.102866573086260


Michelle Meyer, Student Assistant for Outreach

Syracuse City Schools Take ESF’s Environmental Challenge

Science fair draws students from 11 city schools

When the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) held its first Environmental Challenge science fair in 2001 there were 35 participants. Ten years later, the event brought together more than 600 students presenting 300-plus science projects.

The students, from 11 schools in the Syracuse City School District (SCSD), presented projects ranging from liquid density to chemical reactions to the cultivation of molds and fungi. Because of the number of participants, the event was held on the field of the Carrier Dome.

“It’s an exciting venue for the students to show off their work and it’s a great way to encourage the kids to think in scientific ways,” said Brandon Murphy, project coordinator with ESF Outreach.

For her project, Allison Barrett, a seventh grader at Edward Smith School, questioned the influence moisture plays on popcorn. Her display featured a sample of popcorn that had been presoaked before popping, another that had been baked in an oven prior to popping and a control group of unaltered popcorn. She found the control group popped best.

“I like that science can be fun and you can learn from it,” she said. Of her project, she said “I wanted to do something fun. I like popping corn, but not eating it.”

Students from Grant Middle School were looking for solutions to oil spills. “We wanted to help oil companies find a way to make oil less dense so it would float on the water and be easier to clean up,” said Jennifer Locke.

Rodney Robinson, an eighth-grader at Roberts K-8 School, studied the effect temperature has on the reactioni between baking soda and vinegar. “I always get better grades and learn more about science when doing experiments.” Robinson figures this approach to learning will help him in his future career endeavors to be a crime scene investigator.

The Environmental Challenge is designed to encourage student projects that support and extend the seventh/eighth-grade grade science curriculum; foster student and teacher research, scientific inquiry, and critical thinking; expand student exploration of science, engineering, and related careers and educational interests; and increase student exploration and understanding of the urban environment and its relationship to the global environment.

Story by ESF’s Office of Communications.