As Riverhead Charter School expands STEM curriculum, students visit PBMC to learn about technology in healthcare


As Riverhead Charter School strives to expand its STEM curriculum, 20 students had the opportunity to use the DaVinci robotic system at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead last Thursday.

The students were able to try out the robotic surgery system during a tour of the hospital’s surgical unit, led by Dr. Agostino Cervone. School board president Aimee Lomonaco, who is also a registered nurse at PBMC, used her connections at the hospital to organize the tour.

“We want to give our high school students who are interested in robotics and STEM this opportunity to understand how technology is advancing in healthcare and what their future opportunities might look like,” said Lomonaco.

Dr. Cervone led 9th and 10th graders through a series of competitive games using plastic fish and Starburst candy, which taught students how to use the state-of-the-art surgical system that provides safer surgeries with less effort. recovery time. for the sick.

“The robot has enabled many surgeons to do minimally invasive things, mainly because of the visualization, the high definition, the angulation of the instruments,” Dr. Cervone said. “I think surgeons then become comfortable operating through smaller incisions and ultimately patients recover much faster.”

The robot used by the students is the hospital’s second DaVinci robot, according to PBMC executive director Amy Loeb. The first was purchased in 2012.

“What this second robot symbolizes for us is not only staying on top of the latest and greatest technology, but it’s also a demonstration of our growth in terms of the services we provide,” she said.

In addition to Ms. Lomonaco, the students were also joined by charter school principal Dr. Patrick McKinney and coding and robotics teacher Nagendra Singh.

Mr. Singh hopes that through this experience, students will be able to see more opportunities available to them in the STEM field.

“It’s just another way of seeing the world,” he said. “We never think about robotics and medicine at the same time, but there are probably thousands of jobs related to this technology alone.”

Ms. Loeb hoped this opportunity would spark student interest in the healthcare field in the future.

“Being able to connect them with the latest technology here, so they can touch it and feel it and be connected to it, is great,” Ms Loeb said. “We know that this generation of students [are] very into technology and it’s amazing to me to see them sit at the console and how natural it is.

Charter school superintendent Raymond Ankrum said opportunities like the one experienced by students should be available to all students.

“We’re giving our students, our high school, the unique opportunity to be exposed to this stuff because we’re preparing them to be top-flight academics,” Ankrum said.

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