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Scientific Journey From R.I.S.E. to S.T.E.M.

  • Scientific Journey From R.I.S.E. to S.T.E.M. Sayville Student is making “green architecture” a reality


    When Nick Cowan entered the High School’s R.I.S.E. (Research In Science and Engineering) Program as a Sayville freshman in 2011, his interest was in a newly emerging field known as Green Architecture. “His goal for that year,” explained Scientific Research/ R.I.S.E teacher Maria Brown, “was to design a ‘green,’ south-facing addition to his home that would be feasible economically and use green techniques to lower the price of heating and electric. The design criteria required the use of green materials and to cooperate with nature.” 

    Nick thrived in this field of study. With the support of Mrs. Brown and Technology Department’s Pete Carbocci, Nick not only learned how to make scaled architectural drawings digitally, using the software Chief Architect, but he also began a scale model of the addition to his home. Continuing his work throughout the summer while enrolled in the Summer Intel Program, Nick finished his scale model, and recently in March, debut it at the Molloy College Science Fair in the “Special Categories Division.”

    This year at the High School, Nick enrolled in both R.I.S.E. II and Design and Drawing for Production. Under the direction of Mr. Chad Cross, Nick worked on an advanced project in furniture design and the re-use of “barn” lumber, with an eventual goal to build an armoire he designed.

    In R.I.S.E. II, Nick has been learning how to redesign an existing structure in the Town of Islip, by learning building and zoning codes as well as the permitting process.  This summer, he will have the opportunity to work alongside local architects as he interns with Sayville’s own, Kevin Paul at LPA Architects.

    Nick epitomizes the kind of innovative student who can benefit from a new Sayville High School program, called The S.T.E.M. (Science Technology Engineering Math) Institute, developed by Sayville Technology Chairperson Bryan Coon, Mrs. Brown and the Sayville guidance department. Mr. Coon and Mrs. Brown are overseeing the completion of the appropriate courses and projects so that students (beginning in 2015) can graduate with S.T.E.M. Institute Certification. This program gives students the best opportunity possible for getting into competitive schools in architecture and engineering.

    “Nick is truly the model S.T.E.M. Institute student,” Maria Brown stated appreciatively. “He has the passion, drive, and perseverance to tackle independent projects and complete them at a level far more sophisticated than that of a typical high school student.” Mrs. Brown continued, “Nick has set the bar for students who will pass through Sayville’s STEM Institute in the future. He recently reflected (see excerpt below) on his ‘green outlook’ from his experience …perhaps we can all learn a lesson from this!”

     Excerpt from Nick’s Paper:

    This is the most important step to my project as it differentiates me from any other architect.

     Like Albert Einstein said, “We won’t be able to find a solution by using the problems of the past.” Starting during the industrial revolution, the world has become a completely industrialized place in which economists and ecologists completely disagree on what our path should be for the future.

     My job is to merge the two so that our path is not to continually become more technologically advanced and kill our planet or to reverse industry completely. I want to transform them so that we are advancing at a rapid rate while also thinking about the world around us, the people that share this life with us, and the generations that follow us.

     Some food for thought for you, why are we looking for new planets to colonize? The truth is because we expect we will trash our own planet. Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that “The end of the human race will be that it will eventually die of civilization” and scientists have predicted that if we do not change our ways now, we may not live to see 2050. This will not be because of some mystical apocalypse, asteroid impact, natural disasters, or unearthly forces. This will be because of our own wrong doing. Why not save the planet we were meant to be on, that was custom designed for life. Why not make a difference. Why not go green?

    Nicholas Cowan 2013

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