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RETC Develops Robotics Curriculum for Summer Institute

MS 45 students Luis and Brianne watch Kraig DeMatteis (right), technical and curriculum developer for Fordham RETC, set up robotics software.
Photo by Bruce Gilbert

Bronx middle school student Katherine Velez is a math whiz who freely admits she isn’t much of a science fan. But after attending a summer program at Fordham that blended the two subjects, she considers herself a convert.


“I wouldn’t say (science) is my favorite, but I learned a lot,” the 11-year-old said, “especially interacting with the robots. It made science fun.”

Velez was referring to the Lego Robotics MINDSTORMS RCX robot she and about 40 other students from MS 45, the Thomas C. Giordano School, learned to design, build and program as part of the Advanced Math and Science Institute.

The institute is run by the middle school in conjunction with Fordham’s RETC—Center for Professional Development. It featured six weeks of classroom lessons at the school and hands-on technology training at RETC.

Theresa Lupo, senior professional developer at RETC, designed the institute’s curriculum, and Kraig DeMatteis, the center’s technical and curriculum developer, guided the students through the robotics program.

“We used concepts from math and science to come up with the program for the robots, which—let’s face it—is more fun than just studying math and science,” DeMatteis said. “The students loved it.”

—Gina Vergel

Teenagers ‘Explore’ the World of Law Enforcement at Fordham

The simulated case of financial fraud that unfolded at Fordham’s Rose Hill campus on Aug. 6 had all the elements of a classic whodunit mystery. Greed, cover-ups, suspects, and a group of raw police recruits ready to make a name for themselves by finding the culprit.

The recruits were hundreds of New York City-area teenagers, who were on campus for two weeks as part of a summer program run by the New York City Police Explorers.

They were participating in a scenario staged by the IRS Criminal Investigation Unit that required them to interview “persons of interest,” such as Sam Moneymaker, a fictional accountant tied to the mock case of white-collar crime.

The summer camp, an outgrowth of the regular, year-round Police Explorers program, began in 1995 to teach young men and women, ages 14 to 21, about law enforcement.

Fordham has played an integral role in the local program since its inception, when directors asked John F. Carroll, a retired New York police captain and Fordham’s assistant vice president for safety and security, if the Explorers could use Rose Hill as a training ground.

Each August, “platoons” of uniformed teens march in unison throughout campus. While at Fordham, they take part in daily physical training drills on Edwards Parade, at Rose Hill Gymnasium and in the swimming pool at the Lombardi Center.

The teens attend classes on various law enforcement topics taught by officers and representatives from several agencies, including U.S. Customs and Border Security, the Nassau County Police Department, the FBI and MTA Police.

Bronx native Martin Koushall, 16, who led the interrogation of Moneymaker, said he hopes to be a police officer in the Bronx someday.

“It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,” Koushall said. “This is a great program because we bond with the officers we interact with every day.”

—Gina Vergel

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