My name is Madeline and I attended the 2014 Capital Days with my robotics coach, Mr. Roger Ort, and my robotics team-mate, Mitchell. To represent NYS STEM and Schuyler County Regional Robotics Program, we took a robot to display and demonstrate at the Tuesday breakfast with the legislators.
Day One: Our first night, we enjoyed meeting Julie Suarez, the Assistant Dean at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University. She discussed how students can take part in discussions about community issues and bring those issues and questions to local legislators.
Day Two: Monday we spent the day at the Empire State Plaza, a large underground hallway, with a few shops and cafés. It connects the Capitol Building, the Corning Tower, the Egg, and the Cultural Education Center. Inside the Capitol Building’s Assembly Chambers, where we were seated in the assigned seats of the Representatives, Assemblyman Robert Oaks spoke to us about “How a Bill becomes a Law.”
Day Three: On Tuesday we had breakfast with our legislators, and my robotics coach, my team mate Mitchell, and I set up our hockey robot display and demonstration. Many of the Senators and Assemblymen were interested in our display and our legislators, Senator O’Mara and Assemblyman Palmesano, played robot hockey against each other.
After breakfast we could choose an agency tour, so I went to the Department of Health. We watched a video of how health care has changed each decade over the last 100 years. Then an M.D. from the Department of Health spoke to us about the two leading preventable causes of death: tobacco products and obesity. He discussed these issues and answered many other questions we had about health care.
After the agency tours, we went to the Court of Appeals. Hope Engle, Public Information Officer, gave us a tour of the court-room and explained what happens when court is in session.
Day Four: At the closing ceremonies, Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, who owns a family dairy farm, spoke to us. She is currently the only NYS Senator living on a farm. She grew up as a 4-H member, and told us about how much of an impact 4-H made on her life. Senator Tkaczyk said that when she was a child she was very shy and wouldn’t speak in front of a group of people. When she had to do a public presentation her 4-H leaders encouraged her to try, just in front of a couple people. She chose her rabbit for her presentation topic and said that opportunity gave her the confidence to become more comfortable speaking to people.
I really enjoyed the trip and would definitely like to go back again. It was fun and interesting to learn about the state government and to meet our legislators.