Students will tackle wildfires and other global challenges through virtual program

HOLMDEL (October 18, 2018) – The Junior Academy, an initiative of the New York Academy of Sciences’ Global STEM Alliance (GSA) welcomes senior Amanda Shayna Ahteck and junior Claudia Zhang from Holmdel High School, into its fourth cohort. This year the GSA received more than 6,500 applications of which 586 students from 57 countries were selected for the program. 

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This fall, Ahteck and Zhang along with the other accepted students will tackle Wildfires: Tracking, Prevention, and Containment Challenge and the Aerospace Challenge, where students will design an “intelligent airliner,” making flying more efficient and fun for passengers. They will start off with a virtual four-week boot camp that will develop relevant skills in research methods, design thinking, and data analysis. Students will complete the boot camp and projects on the Academy’s proprietary virtual collaboration platform, Launchpad.

Students will then communicate on discussion boards to form teams with other global participants. They will identify students who are interested in the same challenge project and have similar ideas on how to combat it. With the help of their mentor, they will design a solution to the challenge they chose to complete.  

Both Ahteck and Zhang are no strangers to tackling and systematically solving research problems, having been in Holmdel’s Honors Advanced Research class since their sophomore years.  Both students have been phenomenally successful with their research projects, having entered and won at various local, state and regional science competitions.  Ahteck enthused “I look forward to collaborating with students from all over the globe online on the many challenges that will be posed to us.” Zhang echoes the sentiment. “It was very exciting to be accepted into the program,” she said. “I look forward to collaborating with new people on global STEM challenges!” 

Holmdel High School Principal Brian Schillaci commented, “This is a tremendous honor for these young women.”  “Family members, friends, and our Holmdel High School community are very proud of their accomplishments and we can't wait to hear about their experiences and changes they may be making on a global scale!" 

In the summer of 2019, participating students will attend the Global STEM Alliance Summit in New York City. The three-day Summit includes a variety of cultural experiences in New York City, as well as opportunities to build crucial connections with STEM mentors and professionals.

“We are excited to see the solutions the students come up with this year,” said Hank Nourse, Vice President of Learning at the Academy. “STEM challenges like this one provide opportunities for young people to use their creative talents and passion for exploration,” he added, noting how inspiring it is to see how students from across the world come together in teams to experience -- and demonstrate the unique power of – collective action.

The Global STEM Alliance (GSA)—a subsidiary of the New York Academy of Sciences—is a world-wide talent identification and cultivation network, made up of more than 250 partners and reaching participants in over 100 countries. Designed to inspire and prepare the next generation of innovators, GSA programs focus on mentorship, skills development, and the application of skills to real world challenges.

The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With more than 20,000 members in 100 countries around the world, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large.