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Stories from...2017

Melinda LaniusMath Carnival: Gathering for Gardner to Show Kids—Math Is Play…and Fun!

“It’s flipping the switch. Every time we have this event, kids are like, ‘Wait, this counts as math?’ Because they’re having fun! – Melinda Lanius

January 20, 2017

The math folks in charge of the 2017 edition of the Math Carnival: Gathering for Gardner have one goal in mind: trying to get kids to realize that math is more than just some dry formulas memorized in school, but it’s a creative, problem-solving process that’s fun. So from 2:00-5:00 pm on Saturday, January 28th, volunteers from the Department of Mathematics, IGL (Illinois Geometry Lab), and Association for Women in Mathematics will be on hand at Altgeld Hall to get the community, especially local kindergarten through middle school youngsters, engaged and playing with math. “That’s the spirit behind this—Math is play!” says Melinda Lanius, a math Ph.D. student who, along with Assistant Professor Philipp Hieronymi, is organizing this year’s event..

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Melinda LaniusNext Generation Preschool's Grazi Murad Imparts Love of Science, Animals to Students

January 30, 2017

Practically the first thing one sees upon entering Next Generation School’s Preschool is an intriguing, glass-enclosed structure—science teacher Grazi Murad’s classroom. When one ventures into the room, replete with exhibits, butterfly-filled cases, and animals in enclosures that simulate the different habitats the animals are from, her love of animals—and her students—is quite apparent. That her students love her and her hands-on style of teaching science is also readily apparent. The kids not only get to look at and hear about the eclectic range of animal friends in Murad’s menagerie, they get to meet them face to face—animals like Lizzy the Leopard Gecko, Gizmo the Bunny, Arnaldo the Chinese Water Dragon, and Bridget the Fire Corn Snake. They even get to touch them…if they’re brave enough.

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Melinda LaniusLots of Local Kids (and Parents) Have Fun with Math at Math Carnival: Gathering for Gardner

February 3, 2017

Hundreds of local adults and children converged on Altgeld Hall on Saturday, January 28th for Math Carnival: Gathering for Gardner. As they participated in the numerous puzzles, games, riddles, magic tricks, and other hands-on activities, they discovered that math is more than just figures and formulas.According to Melinda Lanius, a math Ph.D. student who, along with Assistant Professor Philipp Hieronymi, organized this year’s event, “Math is play!” So numerous volunteers from Illinois’ Department of Mathematics, Illinois Geometry Lab, and Association for Women in Mathematics spent the afternoon showing members of the community that play can indeed be math—and that it’s fun.

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Wai-Tat Fu's Lab Partners with STEAM Studio To Make STEM, Spatial Reasoning Fun

February 21, 2017

Hundreds of local adults and children converged on Altgeld Hall on Saturday, January 28th for Math Carnival: Gathering for Gardner. As they participated in the numerous puzzles, games, riddles, magic tricks, and other hands-on activities, they discovered that math is more than just figures and formulas.According to Melinda Lanius, a math Ph.D. student who, along with Assistant Professor Philipp Hieronymi, organized this year’s event, “Math is play!” So numerous volunteers from Illinois’ Department of Mathematics, Illinois Geometry Lab, and Association for Women in Mathematics spent the afternoon showing members of the community that play can indeed be math—and that it’s fun.

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UHS Scholar-Athletes Discover “Omics,” the IGB, at I-STEM’s DNA & Health Day

March 1, 2017

Taking a break from their regular classes… and the gym, on February 22nd, 63 scholar-athletes from the Urbana High School boys’ and girls’ basketball teams visited the Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB) on campus to learn about DNA sciences during I-STEM’s DNA and Health Day. While learning about DNA and Health via a number of hands-on activities, they also got to interact with some Illinois researchers. During a tour of the IGB, they got hands-on experience with state-of-the-art microscopes and cutting-edge technology. And over a pizza lunch, they discovered some resources available for them should they choose to attend Illinois. What did the students take away from the event? Hopefully the notion that exploring the world of “Omics” is intriguing and fun and that they too could become scientists if they so choose.

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Student Spotlight: Hani Awni–Engineering for Social Justice Scholar

March 1, 2017

Hani Awni was not always interested in the role engineering should play in regards to social justice, but after venturing into the real world, he realized there was more. Hani is an engineering student who studied what he found “technically interesting” during his undergraduate years, but following two years working in Silicon Valley, he was left looking for more.

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At the 2017 NGS Science & Engineering Fair, Every Student Is a Winner!

March 6, 2017

Friday, February 17th, 2017 wasn’t just any day at Next Generation School in Champaign; it was the day of the much-anticipated 2017 Science & Engineering Fair. And just as in previous years, it wasn’t a competition— no individual student or team won a ribbon or prize for having the best project. All the students were winners: they designed and completed a research project, learned the scientific or engineering method, and prepared a poster. Then, after working on their project for weeks, students finally got to present them to community experts, many from the University of Illinois, who provided not only positive comments about what students had done well, but ways they needed to improve, and even suggestions regarding further research they might do in the future.

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Girls Discover that Engineering Is Sweet at Introduce-A-Girl-to-Engineering Day

March 7, 2017

About one hundred girls (and their parents) from around the state (and even a couple from out of state), showed up at the 2017 edition of SWE’s Introduce-a-Girl-to-Engineering Day (IGED). The largest SWE (Society of Women Engineers) outreach event of the year, it was held at Illinois on Saturday, February 22nd. Not only did the participants learn a bit about the different engineering disciplines, they learned that like many of the female role models at the event, they too could do engineering and make a difference in other peoples’ lives.

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two girls play with oobleckBarkstall STEM Night Exposes Students and Their Families to Fun Science and Engineering

March 15, 2017

A large number of Barkstall Elementary School students, along with their parents and siblings, ended up back at school on Thursday evening, February 23rd to take part in the school’s Science Fair/STEM Night. In addition to viewing science fair project posters made by Barkstall students, participants took part in a number of fun, STEM-related hands-on activities and demonstrations presented by Barkstall folks, as well as University of Illinois students, including some from the Physics Van and REACT outreach groups.

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REACT: Recruiting Tomorrow's Chemists Today Via Fun, Hands-On Activities

March 17, 2017

If you happen to visit a local 2nd, 3rd, or 4th grade classroom and find the students doing an engaging, hands-on activity about chemistry, it’s probably being led by members of REACT (Reaching and Educating America's Chemists of Tomorrow). Chemistry's student outreach group, which specializes in engaging hands-on activities and demonstrations, can be found in local classrooms, school STEM nights, and other community outreach events, showing learners of all ages that Chemistry is fun and exciting.
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EOS Contest Exposes Local Kids to EOH, Engineering

March 21, 2017

“Hail to the Orange, Hail to the Roof!” This was emblazoned in bright orange on the front of the blue t-shirts more than 200 local 1st, 3rd, and 4th grade students wore as they invaded Engineering Open House (EOH) on Friday, March 10. They showed up to participate in the Engineering Outreach Society (EOS) engineering contest. Their main goal? To determine how well the house their team had constructed—particularly the roof—would stand up to the test: an avalanche of “hail” stones...
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NGS Middle Schoolers Build Bridges, Experience Engineering During EOH Design Contest

March 23, 2017

It had all come down to this. It was crunch time—figuratively, and possibly literally, if their bridge built as part of the Engineering Open House (EOH) Middle School Design Contest collapsed while being tested. For weeks, three teams of eighth graders from Next Generation School (NGS) in Champaign had been designing bridges—building their prototypes, testing them, working out any kinks. Finally, Saturday, March 11th, the day of the contest, had arrived. With their fingers crossed, each team eagerly watched Illinois engineering students attach a bucket to their bridge then slowly fill it with sand. The idea was to see how much sand could be added before their bridge buckled. And whether they won an award or not, they’d learned a lot: about teamwork; about the engineering process; and what being a Civil Engineer might be like.
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EOH Visitors Discover that Engineering is Fun, Exciting, and Can Change the World

March 27, 2017

Making the pilgrimage to Illinois to take part in Illuminate New Horizons, the 2017 edition of Engineering Open House (EOH) were thousands of visitors, young and old, including mumerous classes on field trips, and lots of families. During the event, held on March 10–11, visitors encountered some of the many faces of engineering, ranging from current engineering students from all across campus, to alumni, who were excited to come back to their alma mater to show visitors some of the exciting projects they’re currently involved in, and possibly do some recruiting. It was clear that exhibitors hoped to engage visitors in their demonstrations and exhibits, many of which included interesting hands-on activities, to show them not only the breadth of the field of engineering, but that it’s fun and exciting, and that engineers can change the world.
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Mahomet Second-Graders Experience Hands-On Chemistry Courtesy of REACT

April 5, 2017

When members of Illinois’ REACT (Reaching and Educating America's Chemists of Tomorrow) program visited Sangamon Elementary School’s 2nd grade classrooms the week of April 4–8 to lead the students in several chemistry activities, it was a win-win for all involved. The teachers met some of their Next Generation Science standards about the properties of matter. REACT students had the rewarding experience of giving back to their community. And while participating in several hands-on activities and demonstrations, the 2nd-graders learned some things about chemistry…and discovered that science is fun.
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Kelly Cross“Double Bind” Study Examines Obstacles Women of Color Face in Engineering

April 10, 2017

“You don’t want diversity just for the sake of diversity, don’t want them just for the sake of having them in the room. You want them for their perspective.” – Kelly Cross

Kelly Cross and several colleagues have begun a three-year study funded by the National Science Foundation to examine the experiences of women of color in engineering. Aptly named “The Double Bind of Race and Gender: A Look into the Experiences of Women of Color in Engineering,” the study Cross is conducting, along with Jenny Amos, Kathryn Clancy, Princess Imoukhuede, and Ruby Mendenhall, is looking at how women of color are doubly disadvantaged. They not only have to overcome historical gender inequities inherent in engineering, but also face the many challenges racial minorities encounter.
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Local Youths' Renewable Energy Invention Propels Them to the Regionals in Toshiba’s ExploraVision Contest

April 20, 2017

One doesn’t have to be an adult to be an inventor. Nor does one have to be an adult to be green. Dina Hashash and Lawrence Zhao, two local 7th graders at Next Generation School in Champaign are doing their part to promote renewable energy in order to help solve the energy crunch. As part of ExploraVision, Toshiba’s K–12 program designed to “engage the next generation in real-world problem solving, with a strong emphasis on STEM,” the two invented the BioKT. It's a watch-like device that harvests both kinetic and thermal energy from the body of its wearer. Their innovative design helped them reach the Regionals of the contest, an achievement celebrated by an awards ceremony at their school on April 13th.
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Leal's Career Grant: Research in Soft Materials, GLAM-Mid Camp for Girls, Workshop for Incarcerated Adults

April 24, 2017

Cecelia Leal, an Assistant Professor in Materials Science and Engineering (MatSE), was recently awarded a 5-year National Science Foundation Grant called, “CAREER: Nanostructured Soft Substrates for Responsive Bioactive Coatings,” to study key fundamental properties of biocompatible lipid materials. Because Career grants also require researchers to do an educational outreach component, in addition to the graduate students she’ll be training and mentoring, Leal will be doing a new summer camp for middle school girls and a workshop for incarcerated individuals as part of the Education Justice Project.
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POETS/ENVISION Seminar Seeks to Get Grad Students Hooked on Outreach

April 26, 2017

The objective of the contest? To build a pizza-box solar oven that would heat up a marshmallow to the hottest temperature possible. And in a room full of talented, competitive engineering graduate students in town for POETS’ second annual NSF Site Visit, the challenge wasn’t so much the design itself. It was being one of the first teams to finish in order to get one of the coveted, optimal spots in front of a limited number of lights! But for the leaders of the April 19th grad student outreach event, the more salient objective was to replicate their love of outreach in the participating grad students with the goal of increasing the number of youngsters exposed to STEM in the future.

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Alleyne and Wissa Foster Interdisciplinarity in New Biomimetics/ Bioinspiration Course

May 3, 2017

Folks in different disciplines, say engineering and biology, often don’t know how to talk to each other and, thus, have trouble collaborating. So Marianne Alleyne, a Research Scientist in Integrated Biology’s Entomology Department, and Aimy Wissa, an Assistant Professor in Mechanical Science and Engineering (MechSE), have teamed up to try to change that. They’ve designed a new biomimetics/bioinspiration course, ME 498/IB496, which seeks to use an advanced design experience to foster an interdisciplinary mindset among students in the course.
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Kelly CrossScience Policy Group Hosts Brown Bag Luncheon About Diversity Initiatives in STEM

May 3, 2017

On April 19th, a number of University folk interested in increasing diversity in STEM attended a brown bag luncheon, "Diversity Initiatives in STEM." The featured speakers at the event were Ellen Wang Althaus, Director of Graduate Diversity in the Chemistry Department, and Jennifer Greene, a Professor in Educational Psychology. Sponsoring the event was a new RSO (Registered Student Organization), the Science Policy Group, which began in fall of 2016.
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ME370 Students Find End-of-the-Semester Robot Races a Fun Learning Experience

May 9, 2017

There was a lot riding on the 36 little robots navigating the ropes stretched across Boneyard Creek for ME 370's final competition. Held just north of the Engineering Building at noon on Wednesday, May 3rd, the contest drew a crowd of interested spectators who vicariously experienced the little robots' ups and downs, "oohing" and "ahing" during the spectacle. For the students, the contest not only motivated them to show off their engineering prowess; it got their competitive juices flowing as they sought to beat the socks off their opponents. And as an added incentive, teams whose robots beat the time set by Professor Socie's robot got to skip the upcoming final exam.
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Engineering Grad Students Introduce High Schoolers to Engineering Via IRISE

May 11, 2017

In spring 2017, IRISE (the Illinois partnership for Respecting the Identities of Students in Engineering) connected Illinois Engineering graduate students in the ME598EO course with local ninth-graders from Centennial High School’s AVID program. The goal was to use engineering to provide a solution to a problem in our local community. So the students sought to address obstacles athletes in the Illini Wheelchair Basketball Program encounter while training, competing, or just in everyday life. Not only did the grad students learn a lot about outreach; the high school students learned a bit about what engineers do, and a few even discovered that they might like to become one.>
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Summer Camps Expose Students to Engineering, College Life at Illinois

May 17, 2017

High school (even middle school) students looking for something fun to do once school is out need look no further than the numerous Engineering camps being offered at Illinois this summer. Most emphasize a specific engineering discipline, such as mechanical or materials engineering, while a few introduce the students to several disciplines. Some are for girls only; others are co-ed. Some are designed with specific age groups in mind, such as younger students or older ones who are closer to graduation and grappling with choosing their careers. However, despite their differences, they’re all alike in that they use fun demos, presentations, and hands-on activities to expose participants to engineering, and they give students a taste of what college life at Illinois is like.
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Local 8th Graders Build Solar Cars Courtesy of POETS' RET

May 23, 2017

After working for weeks designing solar cars, teams of eighth graders at University Laboratory High School and Next Generation School were either exultant or chagrined as they tested their cars to see if they would move when exposed to bright light. The project was part of the POETS’ RET program, where a team of four local science teachers were tasked with creating a multi-week curriculum unit related to power, heat, and power density that was aligned with Illinois’ Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
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ESJ Scholars’ End-of-Semester Pecha Kucha Address Social Justice Issues in Engineering

May 23, 2017

To showcase their final projects related to social justice issues they’re passionate about, eleven engineering undergrads who were part of the pilot for the new, two-semester-long Engineering for Social Justice (ESJ) Scholars program presented Pecha Kucha in an end-of-the-semester event. (In this Japanese presentation style, 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each, keeping presentations by multiple speakers concise and fast paced). On hand to witness the May 8 final event, were a number of interested Engineering administrators, faculty, and members of the Illinois community.
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New Female Engineer Statue to Inspire Women— Past, Present, and Future—to Embrace Engineering

May 30, 2017

Confident. Passionate. Intelligent. Courageous. Innovative. Resilient. Pioneering. Successful. Inspirational. These character traits describing Illinois’ women engineers are emblazoned on the platforms which support the Quintessential Engineer, Illinois’ newest statue: a female engineer. Unveiled on April 28, 2017, the statue, located just east of MNTL, was four years in the making. While Engineering grad student Sakshi Srivastava is quick to credit Texas Instruments, artist Julie Roblatt Amrany, and the many folks across campus who helped to bring it about, it was Srivastava who first dreamed of a statue to serve as a role model for young women. And it was Srivastava's courage, confidence, and determination (plus a little help from her friends) that helped that dream become a reality.
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Uni High Students Research Heat Pipes as Part of POETS’ RET Curriculum Development

May 31, 2017

Although they might not have realized it, during the spring 2017 quarter, students in David Bergandine’s three chemistry classes at University Laboratory High School (Uni High) did research projects about heat pipes that were part materials engineering, part physics, and part chemistry, along with a lot of science. While testing twelve different variables about heat pipes, they not only gained a lot of general knowledge related to heat flow and heat transfer, but gained some very in-depth knowledge about the specific area they researched. Plus, in addition to learning what research is like, his students got to present their research at POETS' 2017 High School Student Research Symposium on May 23rd..
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Science Policy Group Seeks to Foster Careers in, Educate About, and Advocate for Science Policy

June 14, 2017

While the Science Policy Group, which began in January of 2017, might be the new kids on the block when it comes to RSOs (Registered Student Organizations), they’re not hesitant to tackle some weighty subjects, like diversity in STEM or President Trump’s impact on science education. Their latest coup? They’ve invited Illinois State Senator Scott Bennett to drop by campus to participate in a dialog about Science Policy at 4:00 pm on July 13, 2017, at Beckman Auditorium...and invite everyone to attend.
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Uni High 8th Graders Grow Big Idea Projects to Make a Difference in Local Community Gardens

June 14, 2017

This past semester Sharlene Denos planted the seed of innovation in her University Laboratory High School (Uni High) 8th grade science students. In collaboration with local Champaign-Urbana community gardens, and funded by the Illinois Learning Sciences Design Initiative (ILSDI), her students unearthed problems encountered by managers of the gardens, then, based on science learned in school, as well as via research, got to work on how to effectively solve these problems. While the science aspect of their projects was important, the main focus was really on the design element.
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At Blue Waters Institute, Students Use Parallel Computing, Super Computer, to Speed Up Research

June 28, 2017

With the goal of learning High-Performance Computing (HPC), 26 students were on campus from May 29th through June 9th as part of the 2017 Blue Waters Institute. While some were graduate students from the XSEDE project, 18 were undergraduate Blue Waters Interns. Not only did these interns spend two weeks learning about parallel computing, but over the next year, they will continue to use their newly acquired HPC skills—and the Blue Waters Super Computer—to analyze data for their Blue Waters research projects back at their home institutions.
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Local Middle School Girls Learn about Materials at Mid-GLAM Day Camp

July 7, 2017

From playing with Oobleck, the non-Newtonian fluid made famous by Dr. Seuss (which turned out to be quite messy), to making (and tasting!) chocolate ice cream frozen with liquid nitrogen, 20 local middle school girls not only had fun at the first-ever Mid-GLAM camp held June 26–July 1. According to the camp’s co-directors, Materials Science and Engineering Assistant Professors Cecelia Leal and Robert Maass, the plan was that as the girls had fun learning some things about materials science, their participation in the camp might also pique their interest in science or even plant the seed that they too could be materials scientists..
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Girls Have Fun With Chemistry at the WCC Girls Day Camp, Bonding With Chemistry

July 13, 2017

This summer, the 10th annual WCC Girls Day Camp, Bonding With Chemistry, brought 90 rising 6th–8th grade girls to campus to do as its name suggests… bond with chemistry. Held at the Chemistry Annex from 9:00 am to 3:30 pm on both June 24th and July 8th, the day camp provided hands-on, chemistry-related activities for the 45 students who participated each Saturday.
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Bioimaging REU Exposes Undergrads to Imaging Research, What Grad School is Like

July 18, 2017

In its third summer, the Bioimaging Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) allowed four undergraduate students to experience research on imaging. Not only did they learn about the specific area they were researching; but they acquired new skills related to imaging; gained professional skills, such as how to present their research; plus learned what graduate school is like. For some, it confirmed that graduate school/research was in their future.

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ACES Family Academies Shows Youngsters: "It's Not Your Parents'
(or Your Grandparents') ACES Anymore!"

July 19, 2017

“To be able to tell our story, I think that's what's so important—so people can see all of these opportunities and see what ACES is today.” – ACES Family Academies Director, Tina Veal

They came from near and far, back to their Alma Mater…back to ACES, where they got prepared for their careers and for life. The trip was nostalgic—visiting old haunts, reminiscing, and marveling at the many changes on campus. But as they returned with their children (or grandchildren) in tow, they had a greater purpose: to introduce the next generation to the center of learning that helped to make them who they are today, to bond with them while doing a variety of fun learning activities, and to possibly do a little recruiting to Illinois.
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During ICANEXSEL Camp, CPS Students Discover What Engineering, Studying at Illinois Might Be Like

July 31, 2017

Twelve soon-to-be 9th graders in Chicago Public Schools (CPS) this fall haven’t even taken one class in high school, but they’ve already found out what college life could be like—thanks to the brand new STEM camp, ICANEXSEL. The half-week, residential camp, held from July 24–26th, introduced rising CPS freshmen to several different engineering disciplines via hands-on activities and demonstrations. The camp also introduced them to some Illinois professors and students who led the activities and served as camp counsellors. Plus, the students, also got a taste of what college life (and dorm food) is like while staying at the Illinois Street Residence Halls.
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Young Scholars Program Exposes Local High School Students to Research, the University

August 2, 2017

Instead of spending their summers working at McDonalds, or lounging by the pool, twelve rising juniors and seniors from Centennial and Central High Schools in Champaign spent the summer learning about things like photon quantum mechanics, dark matter detectors, and the biochemistry of swimming bacteria. Part of the Young Scholars Program, a new, six-week summer research opportunity, the students got to experience authentic, cutting-edge research in some of Illinois' premier research labs. Begun by the Nuclear Physics Laboratory in the Physics Department, who joined forces with the POETS Engineering Research Center to broaden and strengthen the program, Young Scholars received funding from multiple sources: ICR funds from the NSF NPL grant, the NSF-funded POETS, the Physics Department itself, and the College of Engineering (which provided funding for one student). The fledgling program was begun to help students discover what research is actually like, determine if research might be in their futures, plus give them an idea of what college is like.

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INCLUSION REU Seeks to Foster Diversity While Exposing Undergrads to Coding Via Open Source Software

August 21, 2017

“We're doing this because we would like to get students that wouldn't have the opportunity otherwise to think about software, to learn about open source software, and then potentially be able to use that in either graduate school or in industry.” – Daniel S. Katz, PI

Ten undergraduate students were on campus this summer to participate in NCSA’s new 3-year REU, INCLUSION (Incubating a New Community of Leaders Using Software, Inclusion, Innovation, Interdisciplinary and OpeN-Science), funded through the NSF’s Office of Advanced Cyber Infrastructure. The goals of the REU are to enable ten undergraduate students each year to develop software and contribute to software projects, specifically Open Source Software projects; to make the population of software developers more diverse; and to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration across all fields with projects led by two mentors from different disciplines. Student participants gained skills they hope to use in the future: they learned about Open Source Software and programming; they learned how to present research; plus they made some relationships and networked.

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POETS’ REU Exposes Undergrad Students to Electro-Thermal Systems Research

August 21, 2017

Ever notice how much heat your electronic devices give off? Four undergraduate students had an opportunity this summer to not only learn about this issue, but possibly help do something about it as part of the 10-week REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates) sponsored by the POETS (Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems) Engineering Research Center.

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Mariano, Pace Encourage Female Engineering Students: "You Too Can Succeed!"

August 29, 2017

On August 22–24, two rising stars at Texas Instruments (TI) were back at their Alma Mater for the Women in Engineering (WIE) Freshman Orientation, an event designed to give incoming female engineering students a jump start on their semester. Since one of the program’s objectives was for older and wiser women to impart wisdom to the rookies, these two recent (May, 2016) ECE (Electrical and Computer Engineering) graduates, Paula-Angela Mariano and Molly Pace, were the Keynote Speakers for the event, plus taught a workshop related to internships with TI. The two were on hand to share not only about their triumphs, but their somewhat rocky beginnings; to recommend resources that helped them overcome challenges they encountered; and to pass on some sage advice about how to not just survive but thrive at Illinois. Their main goal? To encourage their younger sisters that they, too, would someday be proud Engineering graduates.

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POETS’ Education Program Introduces Students of All Ages to Interdisciplinary Research in Electro-Thermal Systems

August 31, 2017

In addition to cutting-edge research in electro-thermal systems, the NSF-funded POETS (Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems) Engineering Research Center has educational programs that expose students (as well as the teachers) to POETS’ research via educational activities, research, and courses that foster interdisciplinary collaboration and expose learners to the unique research that takes place in the Center.

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Campers Build Model Aircrafts, Explore Possible Careers During Aerospace GAMES

September 5, 2017

Twenty-seven high school girls were at Dodds Park on Friday July 14th to launch the glider or the rocket they had built during Aerospace GAMES camp. Eyes glued to their aircraft’s trajectory, some experienced the thrill of victory as it soared in a picture-perfect flight; others experienced the agony of defeat as their aircraft flew erratically because of a faulty design, or flew briefly then plummeted to the ground when it lost a crucial part. But despite the performance of their aircrafts, the students learned a lot about aerospace during the week-long camp from July 9–15th. They learned some principles of flight, were exposed to some possible careers in the field, and, most importantly, interacted with a number of role models—women either in aerospace careers or preparing for them

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BioE GAMES Campers Are Exposed to Bioengineering, Engineering's Grand Challenges, & Encouraged to Stay in STEM

September 6, 2017

Besides being exposed to “cool science and engineering stuff,” such as cutting-edge research like quantum dots, according to director Jenny Amos, the 32 high school girls who attended the 2017 Bioengineering (BioE) GAMES camp this past summer were also introduced to some of engineering's Grand Challenges. However, the main intent of the camp, according to Amos, was to encourage the girls to stay in STEM and, hopefully, recruit some of them into Bioengineering

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High School Girls Discover Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at GAMES Camp

September 7, 2017

From extracting DNA from strawberries, to making silly putty, to operating some lab equipment, the 24 high school girls who participated in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (ChBE) GAMES (Girls’ Adventures in Math, Engineering, and Science) camp from Sunday, June 18th through Saturday, June 24th, got to experience a bit of what chemical engineering is like. After hearing mini-lectures about a variety of chemical-engineering-related themes, the girls got to do fun, hands-on activities about the subject—including some things that might appeal to girls—like making foaming face wash, for example. Plus, during field trips, the girls got to see first-hand what a career in chemical engineering might be like. Even more importantly, they were exposed to women in chemical engineering who served as role models.

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At ESE GAMES Camp High Schoolers Explore Career Options in Environmental & Sustainable Engineering

September 7, 2017

From July 9–15, 20 environmentally-concerned high school students were on campus to participate in the Environmental and Sustainable Engineering (ESE) GAMES camp. In addition to learning about several key environmental and sustainability issues, campers also learned about career options available in the field— which according to several high school students, was why they participated in the camp.

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I-STEM Multidisciplinary Summer Program Exposes UHS Athletes to Different STEM Departments/Units

September 12, 2017

Twenty-seven Urbana High School (UHS) athletes, mostly underrepresented minorities, participated in the first-ever I-STEM Summer Camp from August 7–18. The goals of this multidisciplinary summer program were to 1) expose participants to various STEM fields so they know what their options are when choosing their career/ college path; 2) to build teamwork and lab skills in different STEM disciplines; and 3) to allow students to experience what STEM research is about. Ten different STEM departments and units on campus were each responsible for one day of activities during the two-week camp.

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nano@Illinois RET Teachers Experience Cutting-Edge Nanotechnology Research—Introduce It to Their Students

September 18, 2017

In its fourth and final year, the nano@illinois Research Experience for Teachers (RET), funded by the National Science Foundation, offered eleven P–20 STEM teachers the opportunity to do cutting-edge research in the field of nanotechnology under some of Illinois’ premier researchers in the field. The second emphasis of the RET was for teachers to develop modules related to their research that could be used in their own and other classrooms. The goal of the RET is that, based on teachers’ resulting enthusiasm, content knowledge, and increased familiarity with possible careers in the field, along with the modules they develop, which will be available for use by other teachers as well, a larger number of students will be exposed to the field.

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Sistas in STEM (SIS) Seeks to Provide Support for Minority Women in STEM

September 24, 2017

Back in August of 2015, there didn’t seem to be a specific organization tailored to meet the needs and interests of minority women in STEM fields. So five women on campus, including Shelana Martin, decided to start one: Sistas in STEM, a Registered Student Organization (RSO) that’s geared toward the cultural background of minority women. “We wanted to hone in on that cultural aspect and give them a safe space for coming with their problems,” Shelana acknowledges. But it was also important that the organization take into account the fact that they’re women.

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Engineering Freshman Women Get Familiar With Campus, Learn About Illinois Resources, and Build Community at WIE Orientation

September 25, 2017

The “WIE by the Numbers” slide presented during the introductory session of WIE (Women in Engineering) Orientation, from August 22–24, 2017, says it all. Since its inception 15 years ago, 2,724 female freshman engineering students have participated in Orientation, with 268 students from the fall 2017 freshman class attending. Another impressive number? The 268 women attending Orientation were a just bit more than half of the total number of female engineering students in the fall 2017 clas. This represents the largest number (496) and percentage (25%) of women ever in a freshman engineering class at Illinois—a milestone for Women in Engineering and a cause for celebration. And celebrate they did, as they arrived on campus a few days ahead of all-campus-move-in day, eager to get a head start—to get familiar with campus, make friends and build a community, and to receive sage advice from some older and wiser women in engineering.

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MCBees Use “Whodunit?” to Pique UHS Students’ Interest in Science During I-STEM Summer Camp

September 27, 2017

A grad student is dead. Who did it? An undergrad who wanted the grad student’s spot and/or funding? The professor who was upset with the student because he wasn't working hard enough in the lab?

This “Whodunit?” was the scenario members of the MCBees came up with to get 27 Urbana High School (UHS) students excited about STEM, specifically DNA research. The MCBees, the MCB (School of Molecular and Cellular Biology) graduate student organization, provided the hands-on activities for day one of the first-ever, I-STEM Summer Camp, a multidisciplinary summer program from August 7–18, which focused on exposing underrepresented minorities to the many different STEM fields and career opportunities, building teamwork and lab skills in the students, and showing them what STEM research is like.

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GLAM GAMES Camp Helps High Schoolers Explore Materials Engineering Career Options

September 28, 2017

From wacky wires (memory metal) that reshape themselves when immersed in boiling water, to playing with ooy-gooey non-Newtonian fluids, to molding polymers, the 19 high school girls who participated in GLAM (Girls Learn About Materials) GAMES camp from Sunday, June 18th through Saturday, June 24th this past summer learned about a variety of materials. After hearing a mini-lecture about a given material, the girls then got to do fun, hands-on activities about the subject. Many of the participants, who were exploring materials science in order to make college/career decisions, not only learned some things about materials and what materials engineers do, they were exposed to women in materials engineering who served as role models.

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MNTL Day Exposes UHS Students to Nanotechnology Research During I-STEM’s Summer Multidisciplinary Camp

September 29, 2017

On Tuesday, August 8, MNTL Day, the 27 Urbana High School (UHS) student athletes who participated in I-STEM’s pilot summer camp: A Multidisciplinary STEM Program, visited MNTL (the Micro and Nanotechnology Lab), for “A Primer on Semiconductors.” Students had the opportunity to hear from each of the eleven P–20 STEM teachers who participated in the nano@illinois Research Experience for Teachers (RET), funded by the National Science Foundation where they did cutting-edge research in nanotechnology under some of Illinois’ premier researchers in the field. In the afternoon, Dr. Mark McCollum led students on a tour of MNTL’s cleanroom laboratory.

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Akono and Company Teach UHS Students About Civil Engineering and Strength of Materials During I-STEM’s Multidisciplinary Summer Camp

October 2, 2017

Concerned about bridges or other structures cracking? Civil & Environmental Engineering (CEE) Assistant Professor Ange-Therese Akono is. So on Wednesday, August 9, during I-STEM’s multi-disciplinary summer camp, she introduced 27 Urbana High School (UHS) students to her niche: determining the strength of various materials in order to build stronger structures. Plus, along with several hands-on activities related to Akono's Design for Toughness research philosophy, the students not only discovered what research is like, but got to interact with college students and to experience being on a college campus.

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G-BAM GAMES Camp Shows High School Girls What Mechanical Engineering is Like

October 4, 2017

On the cusp of making some important life decisions, like choosing where to go to college, what program to enroll in, and more importantly, what they want to do for the rest of their lives, 24 high school girls participated in G-BAM (Girls Building Awesome Machines) GAMES Camp might have had a few of their questions answered. Hosted by the Mechanical Science and Engineering Department (MechSE), the week-long engineering camp from June 18–24 exposed the girls to the kinds of things they might be doing should they choose a career in mechanical engineering.

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ECE Day at I-STEM’s Multidisciplinary Summer Camp: Soldering, Circuits, and Software

October 5, 2017

“The earlier you get exposed, the better you'll be at it…because it's something you've seen before.” —ECE Graduate Student Lonna Edwards

What is Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) anyway? On Thursday, August 10, 27 Urbana High School (UHS) student athletes found out a little about it at the I-STEM Summer Camp’s ECE Day, when ECE’s Lynford Goddard and several students from his lab exposed the campers to some activities related to ECE. Students learned about then did hands-on activities about research experiment design, how to solder, and how to build circuits. In addition to learning about the field, students also interacted with several ECE graduate students and discovered a bit about what being an engineering student might be like.

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Math Day at I-STEM’s Multidisciplinary Summer Camp Adds Up to Fun

October 6, 2017

“Math should be painted in a fun light!” – Mathematics PhD student Vanessa Rivera-Quinones.

And that’s what the folks from Illinois’ math department did when 27 Urbana High School (UHS) athletes, mostly underrepresented minorities, participated in Math Day as part of the first-ever I-STEM Summer Camp. “This is math?” is a question that cropped up while, grinning from ear to ear, they raced against time to stop the spread of an epidemic on the VAX website, or wrestled with a challenging combinatorics activity, or struggled to get their mind around mathematical logic as Philip Hieronymi presented some virtually unsolvable brain teasers. So while participating in a variety of challenging, hands-on activities that showed them that math is useful in real-life situations and can be quite different from what they learn in school, they also learned to think outside the box where math is concerned and discovered that math can be fun.

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During I-STEM Summer Camp, Urbana High School Students’ Understanding of Aerospace Engineering Soars

October 9, 2017

Amidst cheering, laughter, and lots of little trash talking, the 27 Urbana High School (UHS) student athletes at I-STEM’s first-ever, multidisciplinary summer camp were attempting to launch (some successfully, some not so successfully) the balsa wood gliders and model rockets they had built. It was Aerospace Day on Monday, August 14. Students had learned some of the engineering and physics behind how airplanes and rockets fly: via several brief lectures, demonstrations, and tours and lots of hands-on activities, the students had learned about flight mechanics and jet engines, the basics of rocketry, and experienced the wind tunnel how the aerodynamics of various shapes are tested. Then, after designing and building their masterpieces, came the high point of the day—a chance to attempt to launch their aircraft.

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UHS Students Explore Computer Science, Coding, During I-STEM Camp’s CS Day

October 10, 2017

For students from a generation that cut their teeth on computer and electronic games, what could be more fun that creating their own? So on Wednesday, August 16, 27 Urbana High School (UHS) students learned a bit about Computer Science and coding during CS Day at I-STEM’s multidisciplinary summer camp. And to put what they’d learned into practice, they each created their own game or story on Scratch.

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At I-STEM's Multidisciplinary Summer Camp, UHS Students Have Fun with Chemistry—Everything From Soap Making To Glow Sticks to Ice Cream

October 12, 2017

How cold do you like your ice cream? Just on the cusp of melting? Cold enough to start a major brain freeze? However you like to eat ice cream, using liquid nitrogen to freeze the ingredients will provide an instant, delicious dessert.

This was one of a number of chemistry topics that 27 Urbana High School (UHS) students got to explore and test on Tuesday, August 15, as a part of the brand new I-STEM Summer Camp, a multidisciplinary summer program that ran frm August 7–18. The camp was aimed at exposing underrepresented minorities to many STEM fields and job opportunities, as well as building teamwork and lab skills.

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UHS Students Gear Up for Mechanical Science and Engineering During I-STEM Summer Camp

October 13, 2017

A 24-year-old woman, Magdalena, who had bone cancer as a child and thus had an arm amputated needs a prosthetic in order to maintain her livelihood. This was the scenario presented to 27 Urbana High School (UHS) student athletes as a part of MechSE Day on Thursday, August 17, during I-STEM’s first-ever multidisciplinary summer camp. So the day’s main hands-on activity involved making a prosthetic device. And while the students learned a bit about prosthetics and Mechanical Engineering during the day’s events, they also learned some things about teamwork and what being a MechSE undergrad might be like.

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UHS Students Gear Up for Mechanical Science and Engineering During I-STEM Summer Camp

October 17, 2017

Where’s the Popcorn? That was all that was missing when 27 Urbana High School (UHS) student athletes sporting 3D glasses lounged in the cushy, theater-quality seats of NCSA’s viewing room to preview some of the Advanced Visualization Laboratory’s (AVL) high-resolution, cinematic-quality, 3D data visualizations. They were at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications for NCSA Day, the final day of the first-ever, I-STEM Summer Camp: A Multidisciplinary Program. During the Friday, August 18th visit, students also toured the National Petascale Computing Facility and met the Blue Waters Super Computer up close, and also discovered more about what NCSA does while attending a panel discussion hosted by several NCSA researchers and programmers.

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