Grantee Corner  |  New York City Community School District 27

Two male students hold up computer chips
PS 52 fifth grade students take a computer apart to analyze the motherboard

Three female students construct a small cube made out of toothpicks and gumdrops
PS 52 students use their STEM skills to build a book stand to hold a 4-pound textbook

A female student uses a ruler to measure the structure
PS 52 students check the height of their structure to hold the book

Five students and a teacher in lab coats gather around a lab table
PS 195 students engage in observation and inquiry around items found at the seashore

Four female students work on laptops
PS 254 students engage in coding

Three rows of students in uniforms perform on stage
PS 254 glee club students performing a tribute to Rosa Parks (their school’s namesake) at a magnet event

A female student holds a tube while a male student pours a liquid into it
PS 316 second grade students show the effects of clogged arteries

Three students stand in front of a table with a robotic mouse in a maze
PS 62 first grade students program the mouse to get the cheese

A female student holds a tablet to control a drone hovering nearby
PS 62 student programs a drone using coding software

Headshot of Josephine Cohen
Josephine Cohen, CSD 27 Project Director

New York City Community School Districts 27 (District 27) and 29 (District 29) established a consortium to implement a fiscal year 2016 Magnet Schools Assistance Program (MSAP) grant. The districts serve diverse communities in Queens, New York. District 27 consists of 64 elementary, middle, and high schools that enroll 42,892 students in grades preK-12, while District 29 has 49 elementary, middle, and high schools with 25,108 students enrolled.

The MSAP project includes five elementary schools, all of which have a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) instructional focus; each school has a specific theme within STEM. Purposeful technology integration and project-based learning are at the core of the schools’ instruction. Districtwide partnerships with Buck Institute, New York Hall of Science, Salvadori, EducationCloset, Omnilearn and The City Tech Project at City College of New York help the teachers implement STEM and the arts. In addition, the MSAP project aligns with New York City Department of Education’s Framework for Great Schools. This initiative encourages parents, educators, school communities, and external stakeholders to work together to improve student achievement.

Located in the Springfield Gardens area of Queens, PS 52 has a theme of innovation, exploration, and engineering. PreK-5 students use mathematics and the engineering process to strengthen their critical thinking and cognitive skills. The school’s mobile engineering and science labs serve as MakerSpaces to foster student creativity. Afterschool enrichment programs include robotics, Lego construction, gaming, and coding.

At PS 62, the Magnet School for Computer Science and Innovation, preK-5 students engage in real-world problem solving through an interdisciplinary curriculum that includes computer science, arts, and STEM. Each interdisciplinary unit culminates in a MakerFaire, where students display and present their creations to audiences of their peers, parents, and the larger school community. In K-2 classrooms, Lego smart tables support creative and social skills. Grades 3-5 use Chromebooks and Google apps to share work and engage in blended learning programs. In addition to three in-house computer science teachers, Google Computer Science First and provide coding and computer science curriculum for students. A partnership with Tufts University provides selected teachers from PS 62 the opportunity to enroll in an online graduate certificate program focused on early childhood technology. 

PS 195, in the Rosedale section of Queens, has become The Academy of Multimedia Arts and STEM. Using state-of-the-art technology, students regularly engage in video storytelling, robotics, coding, digital design, and journalism. The school’s two STEM labs provide spaces to complete engineering projects tied to thematic units. PS 195 also has a multimedia lab, where students can use cutting-edge digital technology to create multimedia projects.

In the Richmond Hill section of Queens, PS 254, the Magnet School for Leadership Development and the Arts, provides a program centered on leadership with transdisciplinary connections to the arts and technology. Through the Leader in Me curriculum, students become immersed in the overarching theme of leadership, empowering them to manage their own learning and acquire the skills necessary for academic success. Enrichment clusters, a facet of Renzulli’s Schoolwide Enrichment Model, provide opportunities for students to join a multigrade group of peers who share a similar interest. Students use their leadership skills and collaborate to investigate, research, and solve problems. In addition, they can use multimedia to increase public awareness of local and global issues. The school’s resources and facilities, including a science lab, a mobile STEM lab, grow labs for working with plants, computer labs, and art room, support schoolwide implementation of the magnet theme.

PS 316 is the Magnet School for Global Conservation and Service Learning. This school was established in 2014 and will now use MSAP funds to add a grade each year to become a preK-5 school and will expand its global explorations curriculum. Through an interdisciplinary curriculum and service learning program, this school helps students make a positive impact on their local and global communities. Each community service project integrates with the thematic curriculum so students make natural connections between what they are learning and the community or world at large. A global conservation lab equipped with Promethean ActivTables supports student engagement in STEM challenges and encourages innovation, collaboration, and discussion. Partnerships with Lego Education, Brennan Development Corporation, and Cooper Hewitt Design Museum offer students developmentally appropriate STEM instruction. 

Josephine Cohen directs the Districts 27 and 29 MSAP grant. Mrs. Cohen has more than 20 years of experience as a New York City educator, including a decade of magnet experience. She has been a magnet resource specialist and a district magnet curriculum project planner. Mrs. Cohen works closely with magnet schools to develop and sustain quality magnet programs.