GETTING THE NUMBERS RIGHT — Scott Flansburg, called the “Human Calculator,” stands before a projection of his namesake while addressing a Rome Free Academy auditorium audience on Wednesday, July 25, as part of the Project Fibonacci STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) Conference. (Sentinel photo by John Clifford)

Third annual Project Fibonacci receives positive feedback

Published Aug 5, 2018 at 9:00am

The third annual week-long Project Fibonacci STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) Conference that concluded Saturday, July 28, drew positive reactions by participating students and their parents, says an organizer. The conference, which included 111 students from across the state plus some out-of-state, was “very much a success,” Project Fibonacci STEAM Outreach Coordinator Dan Kostelec said Tuesday.

“Everything that our STEAM scholars took part in,” including workshops, keynote speakers and off-site tours of several area facilities, “was well-received by our students,” said Kostelec. In addition, “their parents were impressed with their progress,” he said; at a STEAM Fair that concluded the week, “we heard from numerous parents who told us their sons and daughters were inspired by the experience and excited to show them what they accomplished.” He added that one parent indicated “’I didn’t know my son could speak so confidently about such technical things as heat pumps and geo-thermal alternative energy.’”

Students were ages 14-21, mostly from Central New York but also from areas including Schenectady, Albany, New York City, Long Island plus Vermont and Georgia, said Kostelec. Tuition was $1,500 for new students and $1,200 for returning students. Some students were funded through their families, while many others were sponsored by organizations ad companies plus their school districts, he noted.

Project Fibonacci was founded by Andrew Drozd, president and chief scientist of ANDRO Computational Solutions which is based in Rome.

​The STEAM Conference was hosted at The Beeches professional campus, plus Kostelec said there were visits to such sites as the Air Force Research Laboratory’s quantum lab, the Masonic Medical Research Institute, S.I. Newhouse School of Communications, the Museum of Science and Technology, among others. There also was a speaker series for the public including evening events at Rome Free Academy.

“While we wish that more members of the public had taken advantage of seeing speakers of such high caliber...those that did attend were quite enthusiastic,” said Kostelec. “All of our speakers hit upon the idea of curiosity as a topic, and that really resonated with our STEAM scholars.” Among the public speakers were astrophysicists Alex Filippenko and Mario Livio, engineer Deanne Bell who has hosted several television programs including CNBC’s “Make Me a Millionaire
Inventor,” and science historian Brandy Schilace.

The conference’s overall theme this year for students was “Designing the smart STEAM campus of the future,” with applicable concepts addressed during daily workshops plus site tours. Students were “stepped through the process of designing a functional space working from a vision to accommodate various needs,” and were “required to incorporate renewable energy solutions, good/best practices in green building, and smart technologies,” said Kostelec.

​Another theme was collaboration, as students with various academic strengths worked together to accomplish projects.

For next year, the STEAM Conference will be July 28-Aug. 3. No overall theme has been determined yet, but Kostelec said “we have to meet the ever-changing needs and goals of our STEAM scholars and what society is throwing at us.”

Project Fiboanacci is not just a week-long summer program, but is a year-round non-profit educational foundation with programs including elementary, middle and high school students, Kostelec observed.