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Top Stories

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

Joe Muskin shows off a 3D printed object one of the GAMES campers made on the 3D printer they designed and builMechSE Outreach Guru Joe Muskin Exposes Teachers, Students of All Ages to STEM Education

February 15, 2018

If you make the rounds of campus outreach very often, you will soon discover that one of the constants in the STEM-education-outreach universe is Joe Muskin. Education Coordinator for Mechanical Science and Engineering (MechSE), Muskin is an outstanding ambassador, both for his department and for the University. A tireless, creative teacher, he’s come up with innovative ways to communicate the material he’s teaching for the countless STEM education activities he’s been involved in. From teachers, to current Illinois students, to high school students, to elementary (and even pre-school) students, he’s broadened the knowledge of those he’s worked with about specific areas of engineering as well as STEM outreach. Regarding long-term impacts, he’s helped to pique participants’ interest in engineering and STEM education/outreach and has helped to recruit students into engineering, STEM, and to Illinois.

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Heredia at work in Erik Procko’s development lab.MCB’s Jeremiah Heredia: Passionate about HIV-1 Research, STEM Outreach to Underserved

February 8, 2018

Jeremiah Heredia hasn’t always been as passionate about science as he is now. In fact, as a kid, he didn’t like it one bit. “Not at all,” he admits. “I wasn’t into science at all.” Actually, he wanted to be a baseball player…a second baseman, to be precise. Nowadays, however, instead of pulling on a baseball glove, the fourth year Biochemistry PhD student is pulling on vinyl lab gloves. But he’s still competitive. However, instead of trying to beat an opposing little league team, he’s moved on up to the big leagues and is going after an even bigger W. He hopes to beat some of the major diseases plaguing our society, like HIV-1, for instance. And when he’s not in the lab, he’s out doing something else he’s passionate about…getting underserved students excited about science.

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Christine Shenouda Studies Impact of Gender Stereotype Threat on Girls' Performance and Interest in Math

January 22, 2018

“I’m a girl, so I’m not very good at math.”

This gender stereotype is a common misconception that's pervasive in today's society. According to Christine Shenouda, in her Ph.D. dissertation entitled, Effects of Gender Stereotypes on Children’s Beliefs, Interests, and Performance in STEM Fields, this gender stereotype can have a devastating effect on girls when they’re reminded of it just before taking a math test. This is called gender stereotype threat. But while this stereotype—girls aren’t good at math—isn’t true, girls who have always done well in math—even those whose favorite subject is math—can still fall prey to its insidious influence.

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CIP intern, Yogesh BhandariNCSA’s New CIP Internship Program Trains Cyberinfrastructure Professionals

December 12, 2017

According to NCSA’s Daniel Lapine, the number of qualified people who have experience working in advanced cyber-infrastructure (CI) is rather limited. So over the next three years, he and some folks at NCSA hope to do something about it. As part of the NSF-funded CyberTraining CIP: NCSA Internship Program for CI Professionals, they are seeking to add to the nation’s pool of qualified, advanced cyberinfrastructure professionals.

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Allen with a replica of the first transistor invented at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey on December 23, 1947.Jont Allen’s ECE 298 JA Course Reinforces Engineering Math Fundamentals While Surveying the History of Mathematics

December 11, 2017

How well do AP students do on Illinois’ engineering math courses? To answer that question, about 12–15 years ago, a joint group of Illinois math and engineering professors studied the issue. While there is a strong correlation between AP scores of incoming students and how well they do in subsequent engineering math courses — students who get 5’s typically get A’s, 4’s get B’s, etc. — the study also discovered a great deal of variance and overlap between scores: though most students follow the norms, some end up getting A’s while others get D’s. Jont Allen, a professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department at Illinois, sees this enormous variability as a problem, so he set out to correct it. He created his own class, ECE 298 JA (his initials), to refresh incoming students in engineering fundamentals while teaching them the history of mathematics.

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Professor Mattia Gazzola (front center) with the fledgling Swamp White Oak he helped to plant. Mattia Gazzola’s Paper2Tree: A 3-Step Program to Give Back to Your Community: Publish a Paper ➜ Plant a Tree ➜ and Perform a School Outreach

December 1, 2017

While appreciating the beauty of nature on his 20-minute jaunt from his home in west Urbana to campus every day, Mechanical Science & Engineering (MechSE) Assistant Professor Mattia Gazzola decided that just gazing at trees and being refreshed in his soul wasn’t enough. He felt he needed to counteract one of the negative effects of his job—publishing papers that, over the life of his career would, in all probability, take the lives of a number of trees. So he came up with Paper2Tree, a practical way for those in academia to not just take, but to give back by planting real trees to replace the ones destroyed while practicing their profession.

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A group of youngsters make DNA structures out of candy at the Delicious DNA activity booth.Visitors of All Ages Have Fun With DNA, Genomics at IGB's Genome Day

November 30, 2017

Genes vs. genomes: it seems that one needs a biology degree to tell the difference. One thing is for sure, however—neither of them are made of denim! Hundreds of people attending this year’s Genome Day, an event sponsored by the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB), learned the difference through many fun and engaging activities supplied by over a hundred Illinois students, staff, and researchers throughout the afternoon of Saturday, November 11th. The purpose of the event? To educate the community, especially K–5th graders, on the topics of genes, genomes, and evolution. Participants could build 3D models of DNA, explore the Tree of Life to figure out how closely different species are related, and even extract strawberry DNA to make flavored candy necklaces.

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SPIN student Zekun Wei at work in NCSA's SPIN officeNCSA’s SPIN Program Exposes Illinois Students to Innovative, High-Tech Research

November 30, 2017

Illinois undergraduate students seeking to do challenging research on campus, especially related to cutting-edge new technology, need look no further than NCSA’s SPIN (Students Pushing Innovation) program. Begun in 2012, it was created to support undergraduate research on campus and also to provide access to new technology—high-performance computing, data analysis and visualization, or cybersecurity, to name several. The gist of the program? Students get to do cutting-edge research in new technologies mentored by world-class researchers— possibly using NCSA’s Blue Waters supercomputer.

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A group of Local High Schoolers Learn About Bioengineering During BMES' Bioengineer Your Impact Outreach

November 30, 2017

Excited about discovering what studying Bioengineering at Illinois might be like, as well as exploring career options in the field, 20 high school students visited campus on Saturday, November 11 to participate in the second annual Bioengineer Your Impact outreach, hosted by BMES, Illinois’ chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society. During the event, the high schoolers participated in several activities designed to show them how fun and exciting the field can be, including a panel of current Illinois Bioengineering students, talks by representatives from several local startup companies, and a challenging hands-on activity about the heart.

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Yankee Ridge After-School Program Takes Off Under the Guidance of Illinois Aerospace Engineering Students

November 27, 2017

Know what thrust is? Lift? How about Drag? A group of 15 or so students at Yankee Ridge Elementary School now know a bit more about these forces that keep aircraft aloft, thanks to several Illinois Aerospace Engineering students. For four Wednesdays in a row (from October 18th through November 8th), these members of Illini Aerospace Outreach dropped by the After-School Enrichment Program at Yankee Ridge to impart some of their knowledge about flight to the students.

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STEAM Studio director Angela Nelson (right) works with a student making a headlampSTEAM Studio Uses Science, Technology, and Art to Go “Virtually Spelunking” in Caves—Exploring Everything From Spiders to Bats to 3D Cave Painting to GPS

November 16, 2017

It all started with a unit on insects. Then, not to overlook them, spiders were given equal coverage. Then one thing led to another, until recently, STEAM Studio, Next Generation School’s after-school program which incorporates art into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ART, and Mathematics), just finished doing an entire unit on caves which incorporated everything from identifying types of caves and how they’re formed, to sonar (how bats navigate through caves), to 3D cave painting, to exploring the world's caves through both GPS and virtual tours, and more.

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Moana-Themed Mommy, Me, and SWE Makes a Splash With Young Girls (and Their Moms), as They Learn About Engineering

November 14, 2017

From building a boat (then watching it sink), to building a house (then watching as it was demolished during a hurricane)—all scenarios Moana might have experienced—fourteen 4th–6th grade girls gathered at the John Deere Pavilion on Saturday, November 4, to participate in Mommy, Me, and SWE and learn a bit about engineering. While the main goal for this engineering outreach event hosted by Illinois’ chapter of Society of Women Engineers (SWE) was to educate girls about different engineering disciplines, they didn’t do it all alone. In a special twist, the girls’ moms were in attendance, too, participating in the activities right alongside the girls! The SWE members who participated hoped that this event might help the girls become interested in engineering, and that their mothers could learn more about it as well, in order to encourage them towards it.

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Paola Estrada during during the I-STEM Camp's MCB DayMCB’s Paola Estrada Passionate About Research, Getting Students Excited About Science

November 9, 2017

PhD students, as a general rule, have very little free time—most of their waking hours are spent holed up in some lab doing research. The precious little free time they do get, most choose to use it getting caught up on sleep or on food—or to socialize. Not Paola Estrada, however. This summer, the MCB PhD student took a break from her research to try to get 27 Urbana High School (UHS) students interested in science and engineering. Involved in MCB Day, the first day of I-STEM’s summer camp this August, Estrada helped to expose the high schoolers to some of the basics of microbiology. Ironically, it involved forensics. The MCBees used a classic detective game of “Whodunit?” in which students used science to solve the murder of a grad student, and forensics is what brought Estrada to the US and set her on her journey as a researcher of protein crystallography.

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