New Harlem-based non-profit works to inspire young people of color to 'STEAM' fields

Susan Richard
April 14, 2019 - 5:00 am
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NEW YORK (1010 WINS) What do science and art have in common? Way more than you might think, and now a new Harlem-based group is using that connection to encourage more young people of color in New York City to expand their interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM).

Science and Arts Engagement New York (SAENY) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization inspired by the Science Gallery model at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. In partnership with City College of New York (CCNY), SAENY's mission is to increase the number of underrepresented young women and men of color in the STEAM fields through exhibitions and programs that demonstrate the interconnections of art and science in everyday life.

"Growing up on the streets of New York in some of the underserved communities of the city," says Altman, "they're really not encouraged".  And so, SAENY is looking to provide that safe space to pursue a career in what Altman notes are the fields of the future, if not the present.

"The thing about the 21st century, it's an information driven economy and if you're not developing those kinds of skills you're going to get left out on the well paying jobs," Altman told 1010 WINS.  

Listen to 1010 WINS' Susan Richard's full interview with Stan Altman here:

Last week, SAENY hosted a three day event titled "The Science of Music: From Jazz to Hip Hop", exploring the connection between music and physics. Members of the public were invited to a kick off event at CCNY on Sunday, April 7th featuring keynote speaker, Brown University Physics Professor Stephon Alexander, who also happens to be a saxophone player and author of the book The Jazz of Physics. Alexander, who was born in Trinidad, grew up in the Bronx where he attended DeWitt Clinton High School.  

The program also featured musical performances from the Winard Harper Quintet, featuring 17 year old soloist Kameelah Harper and rapper L.J. Isler, also known as Ghetto Ghandi.

On Monday and Tuesday, the group took an even deeper dive with hundreds of New York City school students at the Our Children's Foundation in Harlem, featuring Alexander and the Afro-Latino Hip Hop group Circa 95. As part of the program, students and teachers were given a list of study questions that explored the relationship between sound, music, rhythm, tone, amplitude, frequency, etc, and how it relates to jazz, hip hop and musical improvisation. 

SAENY launched in 2018 with its first exhibit, DUNK: The Science of Basketball®, which explored how science and math play an instrumental role in the sport. DUNK is currently on display at the Yogi Berra Learning Center in New Jersey on the campus of Montclair State University.

As their programs continue to expand, SAENY is working with Janus properties to create a 15,000 square foot space permanent home for the new Harlem Gallery of Science in the former Taystee building at 450 West 126th street. The Harlem Gallery of Science will include an auditorium, exhibit rooms, a makerspace and community space to conduct job fairs, social gatherings and classes. Learn more about SAENY HERE.