Bay Ridge

Fontbonne students visit Brown University to plant STEM seeds

November 30, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The students told Fontbonne officials that they enjoyed their trip to the Ivy League. Photo courtesy of Fontbonne Hall Academy
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Fontbonne Hall Academy students who are participating in the high school’s Brown Pre-College Scholars Program in Engineering recently spent a day at Brown University, where they went on a guided tour of the engineering facilities and watched a chemical and mechanical engineering demonstration.

The students also got the chance to sit in on an engineering class and tried their hand at solving problems. During a lunch with Brown students, the Fontbonne students learned about the university and the process of applying to attend the Ivy League university.

Fontbonne Hall Academy, a Catholic high school for girls located at 9901 Shore Road in Bay Ridge, offers the Brown Pre-College Scholars Program in Engineering to students in grades 10 through 12. The program is part of Fontbonne Hall’s overall effort to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses for students, school officials said.

“Our partnership with Brown University is an important addition to Fontbonne’s STEM program,” Principal Mary Ann Spicijaric said when the Fontbonne-Brown program was launched in September. “It’s exciting to be the first high school with this program, and as an all-girls school, we want to offer programs that inspire young women to pursue science and engineering.”

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The program, which consists of a year-long online course of study, is taught by faculty from Brown University’s School of Engineering.

Fontbonne students who are lucky enough to be selected for the innovative program explore engineering and its design principles and work collaboratively on biomedical, materials science and renewable energy engineering projects. 

Working closely with their Brown instructors, students participate in approximately five hours of coursework per week, including lab and demo activities, online discussions and assignments. They also participate in a year-long team design project.

The students are supervised by Fontbonne’s STEM Specialty Programs Coordinator Adam Segall.

It’s important for females to consider STEM careers when they graduate from college not just to level the playing field academically with their male counterparts, but also to advance the case of equal pay, according to the White House website.

Women in STEM jobs earn 33 percent more than those working in non-STEM fields, according to the White House.

Females in STEM fields also experience a smaller wage gap with males.

Statistics from the National Girls Collaborative Project, an organization that promotes educational programs for females, showed that boys in high school in 2013 were six times more likely to have taken engineering courses than girls.

The organization also found that while females took advanced biology at higher rates than males (50 percent to 39 percent), boys took physics courses at higher rates than girls (42 percent to 36 percent).


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