Academy Carter School showcases student creativity at the STEAM fair


If chatter of the metaverse and artificial intelligence is something you might feel is straight out of a science-fiction movie, then think again.

It’s something that’s very much a part of today’s society — and is exactly what students at the Academy Charter School explored during their second annual science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics fair.

It was there they showcased their innovative projects and visions in the realm of cutting-edge technology and futuristic advancements.

Artificial intelligence is something that has dominated many a discussion in recent months, as the proliferation of the technology — where machines and computers can learn, reason and act in ways people do — trickles down into almost everything we do.

But the metaverse is something not-so-well known. This is the exploration of virtual reality, combining physical and virtual space through immersive technologies.

You know, like augmented reality — where computerized elements are added to live video — virtual reality, and what’s known as “mixed reality,” where someone can interact with both physical and virtual items and environments.

The Academy Charter School fair was designed to spark creativity and enthusiasm among the students, eager to explore the possibilities these technologies hold for their future. And, in the process, it could very well change the way all of us live our everyday lives forever — sooner rather than later.

The fair at Academy’s Uniondale campus on Charles Lindbergh Boulevard served as a platform for students to step out of their comfort zones and dive into the realms of technology and engineering.

One of the standout exhibits featured a demonstration of advanced medical technology, where students showcased a camera they programmed, designed to enter a patient’s body and perform intricate procedures without invasive surgery.

Using real pig and frog carcasses, these nursing students illustrated how this technology could revolutionize medical practices.

Another group of nursing students delved into the future of prosthetics, presenting 3-D printed prototypes that read nerve endings in amputated limbs to control prosthetic movements.

These students also elaborated on the future potential for 3-D-printed organs for transplants, where organ shortages could be alleviated through innovative engineering solutions.

In the realm of culinary arts and technology, students showcased AI-assisted, 3-D printed chocolate, demonstrating the fusion of traditional culinary skills with modern technological advancements. Additionally, a group of students wowed attendees with a programmed robot dog, envisioning a future where AI-driven companions could revolutionize the service dog industry.

“It is a service dog you don’t need to train or feed,” said Jordan, an Academy Charter School student who helped program the canine.

“Our dog is very advanced. It can actually distinguish between solid and liquid objects and avoid them. It also has a built-in mapping system, a sensor to sense everything around them, and can even take photos of you from the camera in their head.”

They even programmed the dog to do real-life tricks, such as roll over or give you its paw for a firm handshake.

The fair also delved into virtual reality applications, with students exploring the potential of drones for delivery systems, and VR simulations for training in real-life scenarios. Michael, another Academy Charter student, highlighted the potential applications of drones and VR in everyday life.

“I feel like a lot of this technology can be implemented into our real lives,” he said. “For example, drones can be used as delivery systems, and you can train people with real-life situations in virtual reality.”

Academy high school principal Tameka Pierre-Louis — a Ph.D. holder herself — expressed pride in what the students achieved, helping further the school’s focus on STEAM education. This year’s symposium, much like last year’s, was designed to foster creativity and give students the different tools they need to flourish in the STEAM industry after graduating high school.

“This is a career technical education high school, and research shows that CTE schools that have high-quality programs are great vehicles towards promoting and fostering STEAM literacy,” Pierre-Louis said.

“And since the majority of the students that we serve here happen to be students of color — who have a higher attrition rate in college when they go and major in STEM — it’s been our mission to acquaint them with the skills necessary.”

According to a 2019 study by the Educational Researcher journal, 40 percent of Black undergraduates in STEAM majors switch out, compared with 29 percent of their white counterparts.

“Them being able to make something out of nothing, and be able to give it function and show it off to our younger scholars, has been a great experience for them,” the principal said.

“A lot of times, students ask, ‘Why do I have to take calculus? Why do I have to take chemistry?’
“So, the whole point was to let them know that what we are learning has a purpose, and is all interconnected and all correlates to their interests here.”