Dr. Jane Goodall Delivers Keynote at Second Annual Expo at NYU
The energy was contagious in NYU’s Eisner and Lubin Auditorium as over 250 excited local public middle and high school students proudly displayed their team science projects at the second annual Sci-Ed Innovators Expo & Symposium.” NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and the Jhumki Basu Foundation sponsored the event that aims to strengthen engagement in the sciences and encourage hands-on project-based learning in the classroom.
The expo commemorates the work of the late Jhumki Basu, Steinhardt faculty member and dedicated science educator. The Jhumki Basu Foundation, established by Jhumki’s parents, works to make excellent science education available to students in resource-starved schools. The foundation selects dedicated science teachers, many of whom were involved in the expo, and turns them into “Sci-Ed Fellows,” a community of professionals who can share ideas and techniques in order to transform the quality of science education. Looking around at the colorful posters, creative exhibits and incredible PowerPoints, it is clear the Jhumki’s legacy lives on in these future scientists.
Teachers, reporters and other guests crowded around the display tables as each student team eagerly explained their particular project. Camila Quintero of East Side Middle School and her teammates read an article about Devils Lake in North Dakota and were horrified to learn that glacier melting is causing the lake to overflow with devastating consequences. So the team made a model version of Devils Lake to demonstrate the problem, complete with a system of tubes to control the lake’s elevation and salinity. “It was so much better than any other project,” says Quintero. “We actually learned something and we wanted to help.”
Just as inspiring was a social action project exposing the crisis of child slavery hidden in the chocolate industry. Diana Drake, Sorene Mews and Sofia Carrillo of Chestnut Ridge Middle School spoke with incredible knowledge about young children harvesting cocoa beans for little to no pay so that Hershey can make its chocolate bars. They enthusiastically explained how awareness and buying fair trade products are the first steps to solving the problem. “Obviously we want it to end,” says Carrillo, “but for now we just push for change and awareness.” Each demonstration varied greatly from the next, but all of them glowed with thoughtful experiments, strong conclusions and innovative suggestions for the future.
After the Expo, the crowds filed into the Skirball Center for Performing Arts for the symposium, including a keynote address by Dr. Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, famous primatologist and U.N. Messenger of Peace. The symposium opened with Steinhardt Dean Mary Brabeck and NYU President John Sexton congratulating both students and teachers on their hard work. Then, with teary eyes, Radha Basu, Jhumki’s mother and co-founder of the foundation, described her daughter’s impressive life and introduced Dr. Goodall as her daughter’s all-time hero.
Dr. Goodall took the stage and greeted the audience with a lively chimp call, sparking smiles and applause across the room. Dr. Goodall spoke about her own experiences as a young student of science, forever exploring and asking questions of the world around her. She spoke lovingly about how her own mother’s support and encouragement nurtured that curiosity. Dr. Goodall discussed her early work with the well-known archaeologist Louis Leakey, including her groundbreaking discoveries studying chimpanzees.
More recently, Dr. Goodall has founded Roots & Shoots, a global community service initiative that aims to educate and empower young people to be the peaceful, proactive change our world needs to see. While Dr. Goodall was sure to emphasize the devastating circumstances facing our environment, what stood out most was her unshakable message of hope. She told the students in the audience that the power to make things better lies in their hands. “Young people,” she says, “informed and empowered of the difference they can make, will change the world.” Hearing those passionate, inspirational words, surrounded by so many bright, eager minds, a better world does not seem so far away. #