The SUNY New Paltz School of Education celebrated the opening of the new Center for Innovation in Education at New Paltz (CIE@NP) with a reception and poster presentation emphasizing the role played by the College in supporting and enhancing teaching and learning at Hudson Valley and New York City area schools.
The CIE@NP, directed by Associate Professor of Elementary Education Karen Bell, achieves its goals through three primary areas of focus: multidisciplinary curriculum development, 3D printing and classroom simulation. By sharing technologies and course outlines with the broader education community, the CIE@NP helps unlock the potential of teachers and students in New York State.
An example of this powerful effect is provided by the collaboration between Catherine Paolucci, assistant professor of secondary education and mathematics, Edward Hanson, assistant professor of mathematics, and Evan Smith, teacher of Integrated Science and Math at Frank McCourt High School in New York City.
With the help of 3D printers loaned to Frank McCourt High School by the CIE@NP, the team of Hanson, Smith and Paolucci developed a geometry curriculum that inspired students to grapple with abstract geometrical shapes and concepts using digital design and fabrication tools.
“In my calculus class we ended the year with a unit on solids of rotation,” Smith said. “That’s typically very difficult for some students – they’re working with a three-dimensional concept on a two-dimensional page, and they have a hard time visualizing what we’re talking about. So we introduced the students to software that let them brainstorm ways to 3D-model the solids we’d been discussing.”
“We were all trying to put our heads together to figure out ways that a 3D printer could enrich learning in a secondary mathematics classroom,” Paolucci added. “We had some of our own ideas, but then we took it to the students, took a step back and let them go at it. What we saw was that they each took ownership of their own projects. We found this approach to be highly differentiable – something that students could engage with at their levels.”
The CIE@NP is one of four new SUNY-wide Centers operating to the benefit of learners and educators across the state.
“When teachers come together to enrich the disciplinary approaches to a topic, when they build students’ close reading skills or math literacy step by step, every member of that collaborative education team benefits,” said Interim Provost Stella Deen. “And of course, every student benefits from the continuity and the consistency of the practice. This new Center for Innovation in Education is taking the lead in offering that vital technological and expert support needed to advance the clinically rich preparation of teachers through collaboration between K-12 and higher education.”