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Stories about... I-STEM Initiatives

During I-STEM Camp’s NCSA Day, UHS Students Experience Data Visualization, Super Computers, and NCSA’s Research

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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Local Students Learn About DNA During I-STEM's DNA Day Outreach Event

May 3, 2016

A group of 29 mostly underrepresented local students from Urbana High School and several Champaign middle schools and high schools visited campus on Friday, April 29 to participate in "DNA Applications: Interdisciplinary Perspectives for STEM Careers."Hosted by the I-STEM Education Initiative as part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH)-sponsored National DNA Day activities, the event, primarily via hands-on activities and tours, introduced the local students to DNA, some DNA research done on campus, and some careers that deal with DNA. Students were also encouraged that they, too, could go to college, and were apprised of several resources available to help them achieve that goal.

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Left to right: Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, and Ph.D. students Maria Chavarriago, Brenda Andrade, and Ariana Bravo, all members of the SACNAS organization.Lt. Governor Campus Visit Aimed at Increasing Diversity in the STEM Pipeline

September 18, 2015

When Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti visited I-STEM on Wednesday, September 16th, she met with a number of like-minded Illinois folk regarding increasing the number of underrepresented students in STEM. During the dialogue, administrators, educators, project directors, and students alike shared their passion for STEM education and outreach, conveying this message to the Lt. Governor: the STEM pipeline at Illinois is alive and well.
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I-STEM evaluator Jung SungI-STEM Evaluators Serve as “Critical Friends” for STEM Education Programs

June 4, 2015

A trait most human beings share is that we love to receive praise about something we’re doing right, but sometimes take umbrage when we receive even constructive criticism. And folks involved with STEM education programs are no different. But when it comes to the evaluation of these programs, I-STEM evaluators work hard at being objective, describing themselves as “critical friends.” While they are pleased to inform those involved in the programs about the things they’re doing right—similar to the proverb that begins, “Better are the wounds of a friend”—they’re also willing to tell them about things that need improvement and how they could do that.
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Illinois STEM Educators Participate in French-American Science Festival

November 1, 2012

On October 29–30, 2012, several representatives from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign participated in the second annual French-American Science Festival held at Northwestern University in Chicago. This year's two-day festival drew upon French and U.S. expertise to address topics on the theme "Sustainable Development." The Festival was funded by the French Consulate in Chicago and organized by Adèle Martial of the French Consulate's Office for Science and Technology.
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Illinois to Participate in AAU Initiative to Improve Undergraduate STEM Education

August 16, 2012

As the nation's need for more STEM graduates has increased, so has the need to improve our undergraduate STEM education. The Association of American Universities (AAU), of which Illinois is a member, has established a 5-year initiative on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) undergraduate teaching. Particularly focused on the first two years of college, the initiative seeks to help higher education institutions assess the quality of STEM teaching, share best practices, and encourage the use of the most effective STEM teaching methods.
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Vikram Bagchi performing research on the navel orangeworm in the Berenbaum lab. I-STEM Program Gives Local High Schoolers Research Experience at Illinois

July 11, 2013

Instead of tanning in the sun and playing video games all day, a group of high school students chose to devote part of their summer vacation to research in Illinois labs.

This summer 24 students from University Laboratory High School participated in the third annual I-STEM High School Research Experience...
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CPS student experiences electrifying effect of Van de Graaff generator.CPS Students Discover Campus...and That Learning Can Be Fun

August 22, 2012

Some smoke. A little loud noise. A physics gizmo that makes one's hair stand on end. Mutilating a Pepsi can with the force of air. Tramping around hunting insects in the great outdoors armed with a butterfly net. Illinois scientists pulled out all the stops to show a group of Chicago students that exploring science at a world-class university can be fun!
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Uni High summer campers and Bob Coverdill prepare to launch bottle rocket.Father-Son Team Helps Youngsters Discover—Engineering Is Cool

August 8, 2012

The temperatures weren't the only thing that soared during University Laboratory High School's Summer Enrichment Camp 2012. In a session on aeronautical engineering taught by a local father and son team, some middle school students got a chance to fly gliders they constructed themselves. Despite the hot temperatures, they found out engineering can be cool.
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David Gong analyzes bone samples in Dr. Kristin Hedman's lab.High Schoolers Gain Authentic Research Experience at Illinois

July 9, 2012

For some students, participating in this summer's I-STEM High School Summer Research Experience confirmed their inclination to pursue a career in a specific STEM field. For others, STEM is now a viable career option. For others still, it convinced them that the field in which they conducted research is the last field they would ever consider for a career. Every student came out with a better understanding of STEM. Just as intended.
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Uni High student in Illinois lab.Uni High Students Experience
Cutting-Edge Research at Illinois

July 11, 2012

On the northeastern edge of campus, University Laboratory High school’s proximity to Illinois’ myriad research facilities made it an ideal partner for I-STEM’s pilot project offering summer research opportunities to high school students. Of the 50 or so students who applied, 19 were chosen on the basis of both their performance in science and math and of their application, which included an essay on their interest in science and how participating would prepare them for a possible career in science.
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I-STEM Evaluators Visit Coal Mines to Evaluate Coal Education Program

July 10, 2012

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow, nor gloom of coal mine can keep an evaluator from her appointed rounds.

With this slight adaptation, the mail carrier's creed might apply to the dedication of I-STEM evaluators. For instance, Lizanne DeStefano, the Director of I-STEM rode for 45 minutes in a truck traveling three and a half miles down into a coal mine. Luckily she didn't have to ride on the back of a flat-bed truck like the miners do.

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Two students work on Lego kit.Uni Seniors Take an Initial Look at the LEGO® DNA Learning Center Set

June 22, 2012

"Legos? Cool!!!" This was the reaction of one student at the University of Illinois Laboratory High School (Uni High). The LEGO DNA Learning Center Set had arrived. The class's curiosity was definitely piqued, wondering what the double helix might look like in LEGO pieces.

The materials in question were not the usual LEGO toys, but molecular designs developed and field-tested by Dr. Kathleen Vandiver, an award winning Massachusetts science teacher and outreach director at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Environmental Health Sciences. These LEGO sets included DNA for building genes, amino acids for creating proteins, and mRNA and tRNA molecules for stepping through the processes of protein synthesis.
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Booker T. Washington Students Down on the Prairie Fruits Farm

April 25, 2012

As a part of its partnership with Booker T. Washington STEM Academy, I-STEM arranged a field trip to Prairie Fruits Farm on April 18-19, 2012. The trip gave BTW students the opportunity to learn about science on the farm, from goats to how cheese is made using something acidic to make the milk separate into curds and whey, to the science of growing things.
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