Stories about...ENVISION

A seventh grader watches the chemical reaction as the Alka Seltzer tablet dissolves in the water.
NSBE’s Michaela Horn Exposes Franklin Middle Schoolers to Science, CS, and What Studying Engineering at Illinois is Like

May 25, 2021

On May 12th of the Spring 2021 semester, during a busy week of finals, Michaela Horn, an Illinois CS student and member of the Illinois chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) took a break from studying to squeeze in Zoom visits to several 7th grade science classes of Malik Berry and Jacob Henss at Franklin STEAM Academy, a Champaign middle school with an emphasis on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). In addition to leading students—both in person and via Zoom—in hands-on activities, Horn divulged what it was like to be an Engineering student at Illinois, talked about the support NSBE was providing her, plus answered both students’ and teachers’ questions. Probably most important of all, though, she—a Black woman in Engineering—served as a role model for the younger students.


Alec Tiffany demonstrates to Franklin students how to begin their sourdough starter.ENVISION PhD Students Use the Science of Breadmaking to Attract Franklin Eighth Graders to STEM

November 20, 2020

You pull a couple of slices of bread out of the bag. You slather them with peanut butter and jelly, or construct a BLT, then take a big bite. But did you ever wonder how flour is transformed from loose powder to semi-structured slices that can hold sandwich fixin’s? Exactly what is the science behind breadmaking?

During fall 2020, four Illinois engineering PhD students, Emil Annevelink, James Carpenter, Drew Kuhn, and Aleczandria Tiffany, did a Zoom outreach at Franklin STEAM Academy, a Champaign middle school whose focus is on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). The goal behind the October and November virtual visits was to impart the science behind breadmaking to Katie Lessaris’ eighth grade science classes. Members of ENVISION (ENgineers Volunteering In STEM EducatION), a Registered Student Organization whose sole purpose is to provide opportunities for engineering grad students to do STEM outreach, the PhD students sought to not just communicate science, but to share how they ended up in engineering, serve as role models in that they too had overcome challenges, and to foster the middle schoolers’ interest in STEM. Of course, the fact that sourdough bubbles and smells added to the fun!


A boy makes a rubberband helicopter at STEAM Night Illinois Students Introduce Youngsters to STEM Plus Art at King Elementary's STEAM Night

March 16, 2020

Over the last several years, the familiar acronym, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) has improved its reach by incorporating a seemingly disparate but actually complementary discipline: Art. That’s what the recent March 5th STEAM Night at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School in Urbana was all about—exposing kids, especially minority students, to STEM via some element of art.


POETS Seminar, ENVISION, Seek to Get Grad Students Hooked on Outreach

April 26, 2017

The objective of the contest? To use a pizza box to build a solar oven capable of heating up a marshmallow to the hottest temperature possible. But in a room full of 50 or so talented and competitive engineering graduate students from four POETS universities, the challenge wasn’t so much the design itself. It was about finishing first and getting one of the coveted, optimal spots in front of a limited number of lights!

CowellCowell, BTW's Family Engineering Fair Sends a Message: STEM = Fun

May 26, 2016

Booker T. Washington (BTW) Principal Ryan Cowell admits that he got the idea for his school's Family Engineering Fair during their Engineering Night this past winter. He recalls standing there watching the families having a good time, when the thought crossed his mind: “What if we waited for the weather to be nice and did this outside? And because it’s outside, we could do it much, much bigger!” So he immediately started the ball rolling. He had a conversation with Joe Muskin, Mechanical Science and Engineering's (MechSE) Education Coordinator. “I think that night I went to Joe, and I said, ‘Hey, what do you think?’ He, of course, is up for anything. He thought that was a good idea, and it started to roll from there.” So with the help of a number of local partners, on Saturday, April 23rd, from 1:00–3:00 pm, BTW held its first annual Family Engineering Fair.

Matt.Ashley MechSE Grads Milner & Armstrong Trade in Sports Outreach for STEM Via ENVISION

May 20, 2016

Mechanical Science and Engineering (MechSE) graduate students Matt Milner and Ashley Armstrong were both student athletes while getting their undergrad degrees in STEM. And they both cut their teeth on athletics outreach—but back then, they did sports camps, not STEM camps. So when they arrived at Illinois to continue their education, both were sensing an outreach-shaped vacuum in their lives and felt it was important that they share their passion about STEM. But since there didn’t appear to be a vehicle through which they could do STEM outreach, they decided to build one—called ENVISION.