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April 20, 2013

New direction for land-grant education

By Mark Boshnack
The Daily Star

---- — Among those in Albany earlier this month to celebrate the Cornell land-grant legacy at the state Department of Education was the 4-H FIRST Robotics team from Otsego County, according to a media release.

They were on hand to show how the RoboKronos Robot represents the new generation of Land Grant education. 4-H Robotics provides a practical way to meet the need for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education for today’s youth.

Cornell Cooperative Extension of Otsego County’s 4-H Youth Development program collaborates with FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) and the Oneonta City School District to offer the program.

The 2013 team members are: Aaron Earle-Richardson, Adam Agoglia, Benji Blacklock, Charlotte McKane, Chase Thomas, Chris Carvin Jr., Chris Lentner, David DePauw, David Tannenbaum, Dylan Davidson, Eric Kleszczewski, Gavin Smith, Griffin Rule, Jerry Li, John Scott, Julia Pawlikowska, Linda Zheng, Logan Mancuso, Logan Pettit and Matthew Bitzer.

This year’s mentors are: Paul Agoglia, Gary Segal, Charles King, Bruce VanBuren, Barbara Agoglia, Alex Jean-Charles, Brett Israelsen, Leslie Davidson and Dave Davidson.

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The city of Norwich and Chenango County Emergency Management offices recently announced the release of a new smartphone app designed as a one-stop resource for emergency preparedness and response.

Available for iPhone and Android phones, the app is free and available in the respective App Stores by simply searching “Norwich” or “Chenango.”

“We live in an increasingly mobile society, and reaching people when they are not home or in front of their computers becomes a growing challenge,” city of Norwich Emergency Management Director A. Wesley Jones said. “We designed this app to be a one-stop resource for the public to get information.”

Jones notes this is the first such app in the state and one of only a few nationwide with an emergency preparedness application.

“I believe this app will truly help our offices reach out to many more people during times of disaster,” said county Fire Coordinator and Emergency Management Director Matthew L. Beckwith. “We have put a lot of thought into this app, hoping when people look at this during major events it will help with their planning and preparation.”

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In discussing this year’s state standardized testing, Diane Meredith, an educational planner and facilitator for schools such as Walton, Hancock and Unadilla Valley, offered some observations. She works mostly with principals and teachers. There have been several months of planning on how to administer the tests in a less-stressful way. These are the first tests that represent the change to the common core curriculum.

The teachers are probably more stressed out than the students, who have been told the scores won’t affect the grade. One of the uses is to identify students needing academic support.

More information on the core curriculum, including a video for parents about the tests is available at www.engageny.org.

According to a memo from state Education Department Deputy Commissioner Ken Slentz on the website, student scores on the tests will not be directly comparable to scores from prior-year tests because the assessments are based on different, more rigorous standards. As such, the number of students meeting or exceeding grade-level expectations should not necessarily be interpreted as a decline in student learning or educator performance. Instead, the results from these new assessments will give educators, parents, policy makers, and the public a more realistic picture of where students are on their path to being well-prepared for the world that awaits them after they graduate from high school, he said.

Mark Boshnack is a staff writer for The Daily Star. Contact him at mboshnack@thedailystar.com.