RFA students welcome learning experience

For Tristan Hunzinger and Noah Nardozza, incoming juniors at Rome Free Academy, attending the Project Fibonacci STEAM Youth Conference is significant now as well as for their future.

“It’s a great opportunity to hear from...really important people...A great learning experience for everyone...whether they’re in high school or college...even adults,” Hunzinger said Wednesday as he waited for NASA astronaut Alan Bean’s appearance at The Beeches.

Nardozza, seated alongside Hunzinger, commented that the conference is “very impressive.”

He added “as the world continues to evolve,” students will be “more prepared to take on the world,” with help of “an experience like this.”

Hunzinger and Nardozza are among 17 Rome students at the conference this week, said Rome district Assistant Superintendent Maria Smith, who also has been attending.

Included are “students entering 11th and 12th grades, those who graduated this June and will enter college in a few weeks, and one who graduated in 2014 and will enter his junior year” at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, she said.

All of the students “either earned scholarships to attend or were sponsored by a local organization,” Smith remarked.

She also observed “I can tell you first-hand that the Fibonacci scholars (the students) are having a blast.”

Over 100 students overall are attending the program, including many from Oneida and Madison counties plus some from as far away as Maine, Florida and Washington state.

The conference is hosted by ANDRO Computational Solutions, and organizers hope it will motivate students in STEAM areas which include science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.

The conference program, based at The Beeches but also including some other area locations, features professionals and instructors on various STEAM topics.

Keynote speakers include former astronauts, professors and an actor with a lifelong interest in science.

The conference is “a great thing in our community,” and will “hopefully start to grow for following years,” said Hunzinger.

Nardozza said “considering it’s the first year” for the program, “everything is so smooth” and organizers “seem so prepared for it.”

Hunzinger added “another good thing” about the conference is that students are “staying here” at facilities at The Beeches site rather than commuting.

It is “more like an intro to the college experience” including expectations “when you’re out on your own,” he said.

Such aspects as sharing a room, managing time, and staying organized can be “beneficial when you get to college,” he said.

Area educators also are attending sessions, including several from Rome, said Smith.

Before Bean spoke Wednesday morning, he was introduced to the audience by Vernon-Verona-Sherrill school district Superintendent Martha Group.

Rome district Superintendent Peter Blake, who spoke at the opening event Sunday, told the Board of Education Wednesday night that Project Fibonacci is “a neat event.”

He praised its focus on helping students learn more about STEAM topics.

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