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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

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Local high school students create their own prosthetic hand. Local high school students create their own prosthetic hand.

Stoked on STEM Education

SDSU MAES chapter teams up with military, CIA and the Department of Defense to promote STEM learning.
By Kristin Riemedio

Have you ever thought about turning an ordinary household object into something brand new, useful and innovative? Science and engineering students at San Diego State University have — and they work side-by-side with local high school students at the 2014 MAES Science Extravaganza to show them how.

The event took place on Oct. 18 and included workshops, guest speakers and a full day of hands-on STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – projects. The free Extravaganza brought in about 150 high school students from across the county.

The purpose was to promote higher education and careers in STEM fields. The workshops, along with the professional volunteers, gave attendees a glimpse of their possible futures.

“They all know what lawyers and doctors do because of media and TV, but this lets them get an understanding of what professionals in STEM careers do,“ said Theresa Garcia, the faculty advisor of the SDSU MAES chapter, which is committed to supporting Latinos in science and engineering.  “This gives them the opportunity to see how STEM research can be used in real life.”

Role models

During the event, workshops were conducted by SDSU student volunteers, with assistance from the Navy, Army, Marines, CIA and the Department of Defense. The attendees learned about a wide range of topics including biochemistry, civil engineering, construction engineering and biomedical engineering.

Some of the workshops highlighted DNA extraction using strawberries and the creation of prosthetic limbs using popsicle sticks and string.

The event’s guest speakers included opening speaker, Jose Moreno Hernandez, a former NASA astronaut who was denied from the NASA program 11 out of the 12 times he applied.

Keynote speaker, Captain Gisele Bonitz from the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) spoke about the importance of choosing a STEM major and the opportunities those majors provide for a better future.

Continuing to give back

The Extravaganza was almost completely executed by students. About 15 members of the SDSU MAES chapter assisted the SDSU MAES chapter president, Luis Martinez, in planning and organizing the event. The day of the event, they also had help from additional organizations including the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Alpha Omega Epsilon and Phi Delta Theta.

“I had every confidence in the student chapter to run the event,” Garcia said. “It was tough. But in the end they were relieved, and they saw the fruits of their labor pay off.”

“I like being able to say that we put on the event and looking at the students faces knowing that they enjoyed their day, “ said Martinez. “For us, this event was a way to give back to the community.”

In conjunction with SPAWAR, MAES plans to visit local middle schools throughout the academic year to provide science days and workshops.