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Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)

AAUW supports educational programs for girls and young women to encourage the pursuit of studies and careers in STEM fields. We currently have three projects.


Barbara Van Itallie or 845/462-3924

Poughkeepsie Branch AAUW is pleased to partner with Literacy Connections on a new initiative, Math Buddies.  The program is modeled after Literacy Connection’s very successful Book Buddies where volunteers go into elementary school to assist children with reading.

For Math Buddies, volunteers will go to the Krieger Elementary School in the City of Poughkeepsie to help children with math.  In some cases, the volunteer will be sitting in the classroom during the math lesson, helping a child or two to keep up with the day’s lesson or to review.  In other cases the volunteer will take the child out of class to review or practice the math topics as supplied by the teacher. Math Buddies can be provided with classroom materials ahead of time.  Volunteers and teachers together will find a convenient time for this, approximately once a week. 

I personally have done this for several years and find it extremely rewarding.  Assisting the children with math is sorely needed.  Please contact me if you might be interested in joining us.

Let's Do Math

Let’s Do Math is an initiative whose goal is to encourage girls to participate in and feel positive about mathematics in their lives.  It is the "M" in STEM.  Programs will include: working directly with girls on math projects, developing teacher programs and being involved in STEM activities.

The current focus is a "Let's Read Math" program for fifth and  sixth grade girls and their mathematics teachers.  We are excited about partnering with Marist College Department of Education and will offer a workshop that includes teachers, fifth and sixth grade girls, and student teachers.  Children's literature will be used as jumping off points for exploring mathematical topics such as sequences and  patterns, geometric concepts and problem solving.  The goal is to engage girls in their learning through a variety of mathematically provoking activities and explorations.  If you want to be a part of this exciting new initiative, please contact me.

Chair, Anthula Natsoulas 845/452-5946   Email


Successful Collaboration between AAUW Poughkeepsie and Marist College 

Zsuzsanna Szabo & Anthula Natsoulas

The Poughkeepsie Branch AAUW Community Outreach Program, Let’s Do Math, represented by AAUW members Dr. Anthula Natsoulas (Professor Emeritus, University of Toledo, OH) and Dr. Zsuzsanna Szabo (Marist College Education Department), completed a successful collaboration in organizing a two-day professional development workshop for teachers: Let’s Read Math.

A diverse group of twenty-two 5th and 6th grades teachers and Marist teacher candidates participated in the workshops hosted and sponsored partially by Marist College on September 27 and November 15, 2014.  Dr. Claire Passantino, author of the Let’s Read Math program, worked with local AAUW members to provide in-service workshops on how to use children's literature to develop mathematical concepts.  Co- presenters were Dr. Anthula Natsoulas, Amy Schwed (AAUW and former teacher), and Kathy Barpoulis (part time faculty at Marist College and Math teacher in Rhinebeck School District).

The goal of the workshops was to provide teachers with techniques for integrating literacy and mathematics learning.  Under the AAUW/STEM umbrella, fifth and sixth grade classroom teachers and teacher candidates from Marist, were guided through the two-day workshop to explore various mathematical topics through reading and related hands-on activities.  These topics included: investigation of spatial patterns, tessellations and angle measurements, and ratio and proportion.  Teachers received classroom-ready instructional materials and select children’s books.  The goal of the program was not only to acquaint teachers with techniques that can effectively be used with girls in mathematics teaching, but also to promote professional development for teachers that could use their knowledge to inspire young girls to follow STEM professions later.  The activities were aligned with New York State curriculum guidelines and the Common Core Standards. Teachers and Marist candidates also had the opportunity to showcase their ideas through lesson plans where they used the provided books.

The two-day workshop was a success and we received positive feedback from participants.  We are looking forward to future collaborations between AAUW Poughkeepsie and Marist College Education Department.

Photos from the Workshops

 Dr. Anthula Natsoulas and the math group

  Dr. Claire Passantino, author of Let’s Read Math





Kathy Barpoulis and circumference

Amy Schwed and the scale group

Marist College and Liberty Partnership

Chair: Kris Puzza, 221-3488, Email


Locally, we have a small mentoring program working with 6th grade girls.  The program, GEMS (Girls for Engineering, Math, and Science), combines volunteer mentors with STEM activities designed to spark girls' interest in these subjects at an age where girls typically lose interest in them.  The program also provides career information and salary potential for STEM fields. Our goal is to expand the GEMS program to reach more girls.



Starting in the fall of 2012, the AAUW Poughkeepsie Branch is partnering with Marist College and Liberty Partnership to provide a STEM-focused after-school program for at-risk students.  The program will pair high school students with Marist student volunteers to explore STEM subjects through projects and activities. 

In July 2014, another STEM summer workshop with Liberty Partnership at Marist for rising 8th graders.   The program was again well received

Presentation by Kris Puzza to parents and students in the
STEM Program 2012 & 2014 >>



Mentor, tutor program allows students in middle school chance to experience college, instills interest in tech careers

By  Kris Puzza and in part from Poughkeepsie Journal

Marist College’s Liberty Partnerships Program is providing experiences in science and technology to middle-school students through a partnership with the Poughkeepsie Branch of the American Association of University Women.

The program provides students with academic enrichment, exposes them to college and instills an interest in careers in science and technology.

The association (AAUW) provided funding to offset the cost of the mentoring program.*

In the program, Marist students serve as mentors to eighth-grade students from Poughkeepsie Middle School. This fall, the program focus is on STEM – science, technology engineering, and math. The students are given hands-on activities that are aligned with the science curriculum as planned by Jennifer Tokos, program teacher, and Kris Puzza, representative of the American Association of University Women.

Between 25 and 35 students and 18 Marist students participate and meet weekly.

Activities include encryption, building snap circuits and take-apart-day (where students see what is inside computers, DVD players and other electronics).

Students also competed in an engineering challenge. The activity began with video clips from the film “Apollo 13” showing engineers devising a plan to save the astronauts using only supplies available on the damaged spacecraft. The students then worked in teams to design and build containers to protect an egg dropped from 6 feet, using random supplies with prices associated with each item. The team that built the least expensive “spacecraft” to protect their “astronaut” won the challenge, with each team member receiving a DVD of  “Apollo 13”.

Susan Repko, program director, believes the success of the program is based on the enthusiasm of the Marist mentors and the middle school students.

“They certainly enjoy working together and give the program rave reviews each year,” Repko said.

“This program wouldn’t be possible without the involvement of the Marist students. They teach their mentees the value of education.”

The STEM program concluded on December 5th with a video montage of the program, and a presentation by Kris Puzza on the value of a STEM career. Students, parents, and mentors attended the presentation which included comparisons of various STEM career salaries and education requirements, along with encouragement to do well in school and take challenging science and math courses. Feedback from students and parents was overwhelmingly positive.

In the past 10 years, 90 percent of graduates of the program have enrolled in college, according to Liberty Partnership.  As a drop-out prevention program in a district where high school graduation is less than 50%, this is a remarkable record.

  *Another use of funds raised by the Writers’ Tea.




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Website comments are welcome and may be directed to Mary King. This page last updated on Jul 4, 2017