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DDC Educators Help to Bring the STEAM “Building the Future” Curriculum to More Students

DDC: Shoshana Khan, 718-391-1251,

(Long Island City, NY - January 8, 2020) Educators from the NYC Department of Design and Construction’s (DDC) STEAM education initiative today hosted 24 public middle school and high school teachers, after-school providers and instructors from public and private colleges for a one-day professional development session to introduce them to DDC’s “Building the Future” curriculum. 

Educators were practicing activities from the “Building the Future” curriculum, to test the strength of the note card towers built by teachers, Dr. Leonisa Ardizzone placed a cup on top of the tower and gradually added marbles to see if they can withstand the weight

DDC’s “Building the Future” curriculum emphasizes the structural characteristics of 3D shapes, bridge engineering, constructing with I-beams, creating building models and green technologies such as bioswales, tower gardens and green roofs. Educators learned the curriculum through hands-on engineering- and architecture-related activities.

The training program, held at DDC’s headquarters in Long Island City, Queens, was developed by DDC’s office of Community Partnerships and STEAM Initiatives in partnership with Dr. Leonisa Ardizzone, a science educator and founder of Storefront Science. The curriculum is currently being implemented as part of the Young Engineers Program (YEP), a program designed to educate students on the fundamentals of environmentally responsible City planning as it pertains to public buildings and infrastructure. Overall, DDC STEAM has engaged with over 3,600 students in various programs since its inception in 2014, working exclusively with Title I schools.

“By educating teachers on curriculums like ‘Building the Future,’ STEAM is able to engage with more students faster and encourage them to explore and learn about what it takes to build a sustainable City,” said DDC Commissioner Lorraine Grillo. “DDC’s STEAM education initiative has opened many doors for students throughout the City and encourages them to explore career opportunities in architecture and engineering.”

“We strive to bring math and science concepts to life and to bring engineering and problem solving to students through our professional development training sessions,” said DDC Deputy Commissioner for Community Partnerships & STEAM Initiatives Lee Llambelis. “In our Train the Trainer sessions, we give educators, the opportunity to explore the concepts and methodologies in a fun environment so they are confident implementing the program. It was wonderful to see how excited the teachers were as they performed the very same experiments their students will be implementing in the classroom.”

“I have always felt inspired to be around a group of educators who are interested and committed to trying new things,” said Dr. Leonisa Ardizzone. “These educators are looking for ways to connect with their students and will be giving them a new way of understanding the world. And today, was another day of pure inspiration.”

Figure Skating in Harlem Director of Education Shyvonne Sanganoo

“Each year we serve 175 young ladies and have a two-semester program. Last semester they were taught communications and financial literacy and this semester they’ll be taught “Building the Future” and a life skills class,” said Figure Skating in Harlem Director of Education Shyvonne Sanganoo. “This curriculum is the perfect transition from financial literacy to the STEAM program because it shows them what it means to have a strong foundation and makes them aware of obstacles in society, climate change and what it takes to build a community, which ties in perfectly when the end of the year ice show, where the theme is focused on creating a sustainable future."


Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability Carpentry Teacher Robert Brown

"The “Building the Future” curriculum enhances what I teach in the classroom as it encourages hands-on work and team collaboration, two aspects that my students struggle with since they aren’t comfortable with working alongside unfamiliar peers,” said Rockaway Park High School for Environmental Sustainability Carpentry Teacher Robert Brown. “This curriculum inspires me to incorporate more green technology in my teachings and I will continue to relate the lessons to real-life situations, like hurricane Sandy and how it deeply affected the Rockaways.

Pratt Institute Visiting Associate Professor for Art and Design Education Borinquen Gallo

“Today, I’m inspired to bring the students at Pratt Institute the ability to understand how STEAM programming is taught in a variety of formal and informal settings throughout the City,” said Pratt Institute Visiting Associate Professor for Art and Design Education Borinquen Gallo. “The “Building the Future” curriculum will increase my ability to make connections to everyday life as well as career and life-long learnings, so that when students come to class, they feel like the theory is connected to the practice. And, I’m hoping to further converge theory and practices through effect pedological modules like the ones we did today.”


DIVAS for Social Justice Co-Founder and Executive Director Clarissa James

“Students will engage in the curriculum as long as we link it back to their communities and experiences both locally and globally, depending on where their family is from,” said DIVAS for Social Justice Co-Founder and Executive Director Clarissa James. “Linking the content back to examples of people that are doing the work and look like them is imperative because they are able to see themselves as the change makers of the future.”

The teachers in this week’s professional development training represented 13 programs. DDC STEAM has helped organize seven professional development trainings since June 2017, reaching 189 instructors from schools or organizations in every borough.

Other successful DDC STEAM programs include the ACE Mentor Program, Town & Gown and the High School Summer Internship Program, a six-week paid internship program for students interested in pursuing careers in architecture, engineering, building trades, public administration, business administration or information technology.


About the NYC Department of Design and Construction
The Department of Design and Construction is the City’s primary capital construction project manager. In supporting Mayor de Blasio’s long-term vision of growth, sustainability, resiliency, equity and healthy living, DDC provides communities with new or renovated public buildings such as such as firehouses, libraries, police precincts, and new or upgraded roads, sewers and water mains in all five boroughs. To manage this $14 billion portfolio, DDC partners with other City agencies, architects and consultants, whose experience bring efficient, innovative and environmentally-conscious design and construction strategies to City projects. For more information, please visit