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Top Stories

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

I-MRSEC, Champaign Educator Jamie Roundtree, Embrace Hip Hop/Rap to Reach Youth at Their Level

Feburary 14, 2019

“So if you can find value and show value for what students value, then they are going to find value in the things you are asking them to value.” – Jamie Roundtree

While some folks might insist that Hip Hop or rap doesn’t belong in the classroom, some of those involved with I-MRSEC’s Musical Magnetism curriculum, including Champaign Unit 4’s Director of Elementary Teaching and Learning, Jamie Roundtree, would disagree. They’re using the medium as a way to teach the students at Franklin STEAM Academy about, and get them engaged with, science—specifically magnetism. As part of the multidisciplinary curriculum, students are creating a rap song about one of a number of principles related to magnetism.

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Members of the P cubed team work on their lego robot at the FIRST Lego Champtionship.At FIRST Lego Championship, Illinois Youngsters Have a Blast Doing Robotics, Encountering Deep Space

Feburary 12, 2019

After working for months to build then program their Lego Mindstorm robots to do space-related activities, 48 teams of 4th–8th graders (9–14-year-olds), including four local teams, showed up at the ARC on Saturday, January 26th, to compete in the FIRST Lego Championship for central and southern Illinois. The competition is sponsored by FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics, and its partner Lego, (a foundation supporter), with support from its local partner, Engineering at Illinois. Along with robotics, the youth learned a bit about space; gained leadership, teambuilding, and communication skills; plus gained some core, life-long values.

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Bioengineering freshman, Saaniya Kapur.Bioengineering’s Saaniya Kapur Passionate About Biotech, STEM Outreach

Feburary 8, 2019

Bioengineering freshman Saaniya Kapur’s parents never told her, “Oh, you're too young to do this!” Instead, Mom, who is preschool teacher, and Dad, who is a computer engineer, told her to go for it. So her early love of and exposure to science have shaped her dreams of a career in biotechnology. They have also fueled her passion for STEM outreach. Her goal? To give youngsters, as well as her peers, similar opportunities to fall in love with science the way she has.

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Keith Jacobs watching through the camera as he pilots one of his drones.4H STEM Specialist Keith Jacobs Shares His Passion for Technology With Illinois Youth

Feburary 6, 2019

Entrenched in front of a newly-acquired, huge flat-screen tv that serves as his computer monitor, and surrounded by his tech toys—myriad boxes of cutting-edge technology including drones, virtual reality headsets, and 3D printers courtesy of Google, Microsoft, and other tech giants—Illinois 4-H STEM Specialist Keith Jacobs imparts his tech savvy to youth all over the state. In his free time, he’s developing drones to provide medical services to folks in remote areas. And while these two passions might seem to be totally unrelated, they’re really quite interconnected.

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Two Schlumberger recruiters show off some of the swag they gave away at the fall 2018 ECF.Looking to Find That Dream Job? Engineering Career Services and Its Upcoming Spring Engineering Career Fair Can Help

January 28, 2019

Start early! This is the pithy advice proffered by Engineering Career Services (ECS) job-hunt gurus Ulyssia Dennis and Lauren Stites. By “Start Early!” they mean that practically the second engineering students arrived back on campus after winter break, they should have roused themselves from their eggnog-and-holiday-goodie-induced fog and rushed right over to Engineering Career Services. Why? It’s time to get geared up for the spring Engineering Career Fair (ECF) on Jan 30–31.

When it comes to leveraging that shining new engineering degree into a much-coveted job in the not-too-distant future, Illinois engineering students should heed Dennis and Stites’ “Start early!” mantra. First, they recommend that students start focusing on finding that perfect job early in the semester by attending the spring Engineering Career Fair to be held at the ARC from 1:00 pm to 6:00 pm on Wednesday and Thursday, January 30th–31st.

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Joe Muskin explains an experiment to Cornerstone Christian Homeschoolers.Cornerstone Christian Homeschoolers’ Students Design Infant Incubators Using POETS RET-Developed Curriculum

January 24, 2019

Over the last several months, 7th through 12th grade students who are a part of a home school support group, Cornerstone Christian Homeschoolers, have not only been learning some things about engineering and heat, but they have been discovering that engineers work to solve real-world problems. Using a POETS RET-developed curriculum, Joe Muskin, Education Coordinator for the NSF-funded POETS (Power Optimization for Electro-Thermal Systems) Engineering Research Center, has been working with the students who, after learning some of the science and engineering they might need to draw on, have been designing infant incubators for the developing world.

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Local DREAAM House boys experience how liquid nitrogen can impact various materials.Uni High Students Bolster Local African-American Boys' Journey on the College Pipeline

January 10, 2019

On December 12, a number of University Laboratory High School (Uni High) students from the Students for a Better World (S4BW) club stayed after school in hopes of making the world a better place for twenty or so local boys. Mostly African Americans, the young boys were from the DREAAM House (Driven to Reach Academic Achievement for Males) program. Part of the Uni-DREAAM Connect partnership, the after-school outreach has this as its short-term goal: to expose young boys to fun and exciting learning opportunities, as well as mentoring. Its long-term goal? To reinforce academics, thus improving the youngsters' achievement so they can successfully navigate the educational pipeline from kindergarten to college.

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An Edison Middle School eighth grader places one of his pieces down while playing Tomb Raiders.GeoJam Helps Edison Eighth Graders Discover That Mathematics Is Fun

December 20, 2018

On Friday, December 14th, 26 Illinois undergraduate students who intend to one day teach mathematics visited Edison Middle School in Champaign as part of the Curriculum and Instruction (C&I) Department’s annual math outreach, GeoJam. In addition to allowing the school's 220 or so eighth graders to explore a variety of ways that mathematics can be used outside of their math class at school, through the event they discovered that teamwork can be helpful in problem solving. Plus, and probably most importantly, they also learned that math can be fun. This year’s GeoJam was organized by Gloriana Gonzalez, a C&I Professor in Math Education who was helping organize the event for the second year in a row, and C&I instructor Adam Poetzel, whose instructional focus is on the preparation and training of pre-service mathematics teachers to effectively teach diverse K–12 students..

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Liebenberg’s ME 270 End-of-Semester Main Project Presentations Showcase Students’ Manufacturability Redesigns

December 18, 2018

On Tuesday, December 11th, the top five teams in MechSE Professor Leon Liebenberg’s ME 270, Design for Manufacturability course presented their final projects before the entire class, as well as special guests, including some both current and emeritus professors and staff who contributed in some way to the students' projects. Attendees then voted on their favorite redesigned product.

The idea behind the course’s main project, Redesign for Manufacturability, was that teams of students were to purchase a product for less than $40 then redesign it so that it was simpler, used fewer parts, was easier to assemble or disassemble, could be made more inexpensively, and/or was easier to recycle. They were to test and evaluate their revised products and report their results in an e-portfolio. The top five teams were selected based on the following criteria: content and creativity, subject knowledge, composition, and contribution.

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A student mashes strawberries so that she can collect the DNA from it.Jefferson Middle School Students Experience Cool Hands-On Science, Courtesy of the MCBees

December 12, 2018

Extract DNA from strawberries. Look at human cheek cells via a microscope. Make paper helicopters. These are some of the fun, hands-on STEM activities Jefferson Middle School eighth graders are getting to do courtesy of the MCBees, a graduate student organization from Illinois’ School of Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB). So, a couple of times a month from October 2018 through May 2019, MCB Ph.D. students (and postdocs) are putting their research on hold for an hour or so in order to share their passion for science with Elizabeth Wheatman’s and Sammy Yoo’s eighth grade students. The two science teachers appreciated the MCBees’ spring 2018 activities so much that they invited them back for the entire 2018–2019 academic year too.

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A Chic Tech participant gets cozy with her stuffed animal during Girls' Night.ChicTech Introduces High School Girls to Computer Science—Other Girls Who Are Passionate About It Too

December 6, 2018

Excited to interact with other girls (and women) interested in computer science, high school girls from all over the state showed up at ChicTech, a two-day event designed to expose girls to computer science (CS), some possible careers in CS, and to show them that they would have a ready-made community, the WCS (Women in Computer Science) group, should they matriculate to Illinois. And more importantly, during the workshops, they learned that, yes, indeed, they can do computer science. One of the main goals of Chic Tech was to give participants a chance to learn that they can do computer science. The event featured three different workshops designed for girls with different levels of expertise.

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During Sonia Math Day, a participant writes down data as they participate in the Local Girls Make Strides In Mathematics During AWM’s Sonia Math Day

December 3, 2018

On Saturday, November 10, 2018, during Sonia Math Day, a number of math grad students from the Association of Women in Mathematics (AWM) put into practice the “Say what you know” idea, taken from the life philosophy of Sonya Kovalevsky. The annual event celebrates the life of Kovalesvsky, the greatest female mathematician prior to the twentieth century, and her impact—that women can succeed in and contribute to the field of mathematics. Benefitting from the AWM women’s wisdom (and that of some male students who support women in math), were five local girls who did some unique, math-related activities probably quite different from what they normally are exposed to in school. Plus, they not only met other local girls also interested in math, but networked with some role models during the event, women who are currently on a trajectory to careers in math.

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Assistant Professor Chenhui Shao (left), with the student who guessed the shape of her cookie with the fewest toothpicks.Paper2Tree Plants Trees, Sows Seeds Regarding Potential Careers in Engineering

November 28, 2018

On Thursday, November 15th, a number of community-minded Mechanical Science and Engineering (MechSE) Professors participated in Mattia Gazzola’s Paper2Tree project, some for the second year in a row. The goal of the project is to enable these faculty to give back to the community in a couple of ways. First, as the Paper2Tree name implies, the professors hoped to make amends for the number of trees used up when publishing by having crews from two partners, the Urbana and Champaign Park Districts, on hand to plant two trees. The event also allowed these educators to give back to the community by sharing what they’re passionate about— teaching and research. But instead of working with today’s college students, they were interacting with tomorrow’s—fourth and fifth graders at Martin Luther King Elementary School in Urbana and fourth graders at Booker T. Washington STEM Academy (BTW) in Champaign.

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Integrative Biology Instructor Joanne Manaster shares an anecdote about learning to use Twitter with the audience.How Tweet It Is! I-MRSEC Workshop Helps Scientists Incorporate Twitter into Their Scientific Communication Repertoire

November 20, 2018

Are you passionate about communicating science, but a bit behind on the latest technology, like Twitter? Do you have an inkling what Twitter is and does, and are interested in finding out about how Twitter might be helpful to you as a scientist? Do you have a Twitter account, but haven’t quite gotten the hang of how to use it? A number of university folk who fit in one or more of the above categories showed up at the Physics Interaction Room on November 14th for a workshop: “Social Media for Scientists: #Tweetyourscience.” As the title implies, workshop participants hoped to find out more about how they might use social media—especially Twitter—to communicate science. Sponsored by I-MRSEC (Illinois Materials Research Science and Engineering Consortium), Beckman Institute 21st Century Scientists, and Illinois’ Graduate College, the workshop featured a talk by the Grad College’s Mike Firmand, a panel of researchers from Illinois’ science community who have a good Twitter following, plus some small groups based on participants’ level of Twitter expertise.

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A high schooler shows off the device he and hs teammate created.BMES Provides Biomedical Engineering Resources to Students of All Ages

November 14, 2018

One of the main goals of Illinois’ Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) is to shape well-rounded Bioengineering (BioE) students by providing a variety of resources and opportunities for its members. However, almost as important to BMES members is their desire to maintain the BioE pipeline by interesting high school students (and even younger ones) in going into the field—possibly at Illinois. This was the goal of one of their major outreach events of the year—Bioengineer Your Impact—which recently took place on Saturday, November 10th. The 13 high schoolers who showed up on campus for the event discovered what Bioengineering is about through a variety of different activities and interactions.

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A Cena y Ciencias participant shows the balloon that he completely put a stick through.Polímeros! Cena y Ciencias Program Teaches About Materials Through a Supper & Science Night

November 14, 2018

A group of around 80+ mostly Hispanic K–5 students and their families showed up for the November 5th Cena y Ciencias (Spanish for “Supper and Science”) at Dr. Preston Williams Elementary School in Urbana. Jointly sponsored by SACNAS and I-MRSEC, the program is addressing materials such as polímeros (Spanish for polymers)—the star of the November outreach. And while the free pizza most likely provided some incentive for families to take part, based on the youngsters’ excitement, it was apparent that participating in the different hands-on science activities led completely in Spanish was their main focus during the evening.

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An IGL student (standing) looks upon as Central High students work on creating their knot.IGL Links Central High Students to the More Knotty Aspects of Mathematics

November 12, 2018

Everyone is familiar with knots. There are simple knots, such as those we master when we’re five-year-olds learning to tie our shoelaces. Then there are some not-quite-as-simple knots, such as those sailors use when tying rope. But on Thursday, November 1st, a team of Illinois Geometry Lab (IGL) students visited Central High School’s AMSO club (Appplied Math and Science Outreach) to introduce the students to knot theory, with its even more complex mathematical knots and links, including Brunnian links. This unique learning opportunity was made possible thanks to the founder and President of the club, Anna Kinderman, who began the club in order to challenge her classmates in STEM, and who reached out to the IGL folks and organized the event.

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Fourth grade teacher Jennifer Simmons looks on as two of her students test their solar car.Dr. Howard Fourth Graders Learn Engineering, Problem-Solving, While Building Solar Cars

November 6, 2018

Design. Build. Test. Tweak. Test again. These are the engineering design process steps three Illinois Engineering seniors, Peter Sokalski, George Popovic, and Cameron Harris, have been underscoring during their Fall 2018 visits to Dr. Howard School in Champaign. Their goal: introduce Jennifer Simmons’ fourth grade students to engineering via a fun solar car project. In addition to the kids learning about engineering and adding skills related to construction and problem solving, the three visitors, along with Ms. Simmons, also hoped that the students would grow personally in regards to their perseverance, communication skills. and self-confidence. Plus, their long-range goal was to show the kids that they too have what it takes to become engineers when it’s time to think about careers.

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Mashruba Haque shows a young MakerGirl visitor the 3D printers.MakerGirl Seeks to Expand the STEM Pipeline by Getting Middle School Girls Interested in STEM

November 2, 2018

Excited about having some pre-Halloween fun with STEM, six local middle-school girls showed up at the Armory’s Innovation Lab on Tuesday, October 30th, for MakerGirl. During the two-hour session, the 7–10-year-old girls learned how to use Tinker-CAD, a computer-aided-design application for kids, discovered how 3D printers work, then 3D printed Halloween-related designs they’d made. Plus, currently all the rage and completely apropos for Halloween, they made some ooey-gooey slime. MakerGirl is a STEM education outreach program whose mission is to inspire girls to be active in STEM, to “live and dream as unstoppable forces that say yes to the challenges of the future.” Its ultimate goal? To channel more girls into the STEM Pipeline in order to foster “gender equality in all workplaces,” especially the STEM workforce.

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