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Donnel White, a science teacher at John M. Smyth Elementary School in Chicago, prepares to test the circuit he built as part of the CICSTEME365 workshop.

Top Stories

(Note: Web articles are organized in descending order from the most recent to the oldest articles.)

Laura Schissler Via ISUR, Engineering Undergrads Conduct Research, Present at Virtual Expo

May 8, 2020

As in years past, Grainger College of Engineering’s Illinois Scholars Undergraduate Research (ISUR) Program provided support for students conducting research alongside Illinois researchers during summer 2019 and the 2019–2020 school year. However, unlike its predecessors, the virtual edition of ISUR’s Research Expo 2020, held from April 24th­–May 1st lacked a crowded room full of brightly colored posters. Also missing weas the cacophony of voices simultaneously discussing research as students presented to visitors face to face. Due to COVID-19, this sort of venue was prohibited. However, just like its predecessors, the spring 2020 Expo gave undergraduate researchers a chance to share their research with interested peers, colleagues, and visitors. Each of this year’s crop of students created a poster or PowerPoint, presented their research orally, and even “stood” ready to field visitors’questions…all facilitated virtually.

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Fabrizzio Vega From Trash to Treasure: Liebenberg Uses Design for Repurposing to Spark Student Interest in Online Classes, Possibly Making a Difference in the COVID-19 Pandemic

May 6, 2020

Can a Coca-Cola bottle be repurposed to make a medical device? What about a plastic bag? How effective are the masks we must now wear when in public? How can masks be reused safely? What are some low-cost solutions for the shortage of ventilators? Leon Liebenberg, a Teaching Associate Professor in Mechanical Science and Engineering (MechSE) was hopeful that students in his ME 270 course might answer some of these questions, even possibly resolve some of the COVID-19-related issues our society is now facing. Liebenberg says, “With everything being turned upside down” (due to the pandemic), he sought a way to help his students more fully engage in online learning. So over spring break, he revamped the final project for his Design for Manufacturability course, making it timely, extremely relevant to the real world, and sure to pique the interest of his students, whom he says are passionate about making a difference. As part of ME270’s “Design-for-Repurposing” final project, students were to design a prototype for emergency medical equipment, such as a ventilator or face mask, using repurposed materials and products.

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Elena Kamis Grainger Engineering’s Knights of St. Patrick Honors Eleven Outstanding Seniors

April 14, 2020

In fall 2020, the Physics Department is going to finish rolling out reformed course laboratories that they’ve been developing over the last several years. But it won’t be business as usual. Instead of having students follow verbatim a long set of very detailed instructions, the idea is that the labs would foster independent, creative thinking, giving students the freedom to explore—and even fail—just like real scientists. Another goal is that the labs will help students develop two kinds of necessary skills: expertise in doing procedures plus “invisible” or involuntary skills—expertise to do something without even thinking about it. And contrary to the instructor-student hierarchy traditionally understood in years past, it’s not the instructor who will be the expert, but the students will be the acknowledged experts of the work they’ll be doing.

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Mats Selen (left) works with a Physics 211 student on an iOLab activity. Physics Lab Reform Fosters Independent, Creative Thinking, Builds Student Skills

April 8, 2020

“Cause that’s a really big part of this independent, creative thinking, is to have the freedom to choose and to have the trust from your instructors that you are the expert.” – Katie Ansell

In fall 2020, the Physics Department is going to finish rolling out reformed course laboratories that they’ve been developing over the last several years. But it won’t be business as usual. Instead of having students follow verbatim a long set of very detailed instructions, the idea is that the labs would foster independent, creative thinking, giving students the freedom to explore—and even fail—just like real scientists. Another goal is that the labs will help students develop two kinds of necessary skills: expertise in doing procedures plus “invisible” or involuntary skills—expertise to do something without even thinking about it. And contrary to the instructor-student hierarchy traditionally understood in years past, it’s not the instructor who will be the expert, but the students will be the acknowledged experts of the work they’ll be doing.

FULL STORY


i-MADE Allows Engineering Underclassmen to Do Healthcare Design, Plus Help Others

March 18, 2020

The new i-MADE RSO (Illinois Medical Advancements through Design and Engineering) is giving its members the best of both worlds. For instance, they’re gaining experience designing medical-field-related projects that will help them get jobs down the road. However, these projects don’t just look good on their resumes; i-MADE members are also getting the chance to make some people's lives better.

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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.

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Felipe Menanteau teaches the youngsters at Cena y Ciencias about heat and temperature. Cena y Ciencias—Science Demonstrated in Spanish by Hispanic Role Models

March 11, 2020

“We use language as a powerful tool to connect with the communities and provide an example for the children.” – Felipe Menanteau

Felipe Menanteau teaches the youngsters at Cena y Ciencias about heat and temperature. Felipe Menanteau teaches the youngsters at Cena y Ciencias about heat and temperature. Pizza. Exciting demos (including one featuring a blowtorch!). Hands-on activities related to temperature. These are some of the fun things a group of Kindergarten through 5th graders from two Urbana elementary schools, Dr. Preston Williams and Leal, experienced at Cena y Ciencias (Supper and Science) on March 2nd. The evening at Williams was comprised of supper (pizza) followed by, of course, science related to the night’s theme: “Put to the Test of Fire: Materials That Protect Us.” However—probably most important of all—the night’s activities were all conducted in Spanish by scientists of Hispanic heritage.

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SWE’s Engineering Exploration Shows Middle School Girls: Women Can Be Engineers!

March 5, 2020

The name of SWE’s new Engineering Exploration outreach pretty much sums up the event. The 40 or so mostly middle school girls who showed up for the February 22nd all-day event had a chance to explore the different engineering disciplines available; were exposed to women in engineering—from current students to practicing engineers; and discovered, while successfully completing the various hands-on activities, that they too could do engineering.

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Franklin Steam Academy Students Experience Cutting-Edge Science at MRL

February 27, 2020

Explore a different reality via VR. Cover up from head to toe in a strange suit, safety glasses, and gloves and experience a cleanroom. See firsthand what equipment like a 3D Optical Profilometer and a Contact Angle Goniometer do. These are just some of the cool things Franklin STEAM Academy students got to experience during their field trip to the Materials Research Lab (MRL) on February 20th (the 7th graders) and 21st (the 8th graders). During their brief hiatus from the classroom, the students not only got to see, but get their hands on, some real-world, high-tech stuff MRL scientists use every day in their research.

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NGS Students Address Global Issues at 2020 Science and Engineering Fair

February 24, 2020

This year, for the Next Generation School (NGS) annual Science and Engineering Fair, the organizers made a slight change. Rather than students choosing to research any area as long as it was related to science or engineering, their projects were to address global issues. “We always want to keep things new and fresh for our children,” admits Head of School Chris Woller, “because we feel like that's also the world of science and engineering—new things are always popping up.”

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Musical Magnetism’s Destroy-A-Toy Activity: Messy, But Definitely Curiosity-Driven and Educational!

February 13, 2020

The challenge for the Franklin STEAM Academy seventh and eighth graders participating in the Musical Magnetism’s Destroy-A-Toy, hands-on activity was to discover what makes toys like a Magnadoodle or an Etch-a-Sketch work. After all was said and done, they learned that it was magnetism. (After all, in a program called Musical Magnetism, it’s apparent that either one or the other must be involved.)

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Winter Math Carnival Adds Up to a Good Time for Local Families

February 12, 2020

Math can be fun! This was the idea behind the Winter Math Carnival held at the Alice Campbell Alumni Center on February 2nd from 2:00–5:00 pm. It drew around 150 families and 400–500 people overall—parents, grandparents, and a whole lot of kids having a good time. Sponsored by Illinois Geometry Lab (IGL), a key research/outreach program of Illinois’ Mathematics Department, the carnival featured a variety of hands-on, math-related activities and games that encouraged the youngsters to think. Plus, in addition to some goodies, kids had a chance to interact with math students who were eager to share their passion for what they do and how much fun math can be.

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Spencer Hulsey, the Face of the Physics Van: Passionate About Physics—and Outreach

February 5, 2020

This is one of Physics senior Spencer Hulsey’s favorite quotes by physicist Richard Feynman, who helped to pique her interest in physics. However, someone who had an even more significant impact on her love of physics and decision to study it was her high school physics teacher, Steve Eischens. And while Hulsey loves physics research (she’s worked for four different professors), probably her favorite thing to do is outreach. In fact, all who have seen the co-coordinator of the Physics Department’s long-standing outreach group in action might aptly call her “the Face of the Physics Van.”

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Physics Van Uses Exciting Demos to Pique Students’ Interest in Science

February 5, 2020

When seeking to attract youngsters to STEM and entice them into a journey along the STEM pipeline, there’s no campus group that does a better job of helping get kids moving in the right direction than the Physics Van. Playing the benevolent Pied Piper of Physics, this long-time campus group, practically the grandfather of campus STEM outreach groups, pulls out all the stops year after year, using its unique brand of fun, engaging, often spectacular demonstrations about science, particularly physics, interspersed with humorous banter bordering on slapstick comedy, to show kids just how fun and exciting science can be.

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Virginia Lorenz & Franklin student Physics' Lorenz Shines a Light on Invisible Light as Part of I-MRSEC’s Musical Magnetism Program at Franklin

January 21, 2020

What better way to get Franklin STEAM Academy seventh and eighth grade students interested in science than by couching it in fun, hands-on activities and demonstrations and encouraging them to express what they’ve learned in some mediums they love—music, hip hop/rap, and videos. This was the goal of the Musical Magnetism program sponsored by I-MRSEC (the Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Center), Illinois’ NSF-funded center which focuses on some of the properties of materials, such as magnetism. The main project of the Jan 13–March 6, 2020 program is this: students are to select a specific topic related to magnetism, research it, then create a music video to be previewed at a video release party on the final day of the program.

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Chicago Students Experience STEM, Illinois During ChiS&E Campus Visit

January 16, 2020

So excited about STEM that they put their usual Saturday morning activities on hold, a number of Chicago Public School 7th and 8th graders (and even some parents) travelled down to Illinois on December 7, 2019, for a campus visit sponsored by Grainger Engineering’s ChiS&E program. The goal was to further reinforce the youngsters’ journey along the STEM pipeline. Event planners hoped to pique the students’ interest in STEM through a variety of fun, hands-on engineering activities; introduce them both to the campus and to some of its people; and, as the name of the event—“Young Physicists and Computer Scientists”—implies, instill in them the notion that they too can achieve careers in STEM.

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