STEM Day at the Lab enlightens students

May 7, 2019
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Majid Khalaf, a health physicist in the Radiation Protection Functional Area, speaks to a student about radiation and how it is detected. Photo by Carrie Martin/LLNL. (Download Image)

STEM Day at the Lab enlightens students

Students from eight schools across the Bay Area (primarily Oakland and San Francisco) visited Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) for STEM Day at the Lab, a daylong interactive event focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) for students from underserved communities. See photo gallery.

STEM Day at the Lab is geared toward getting students excited about how fun science can be as a career path and to encourage them to make positive future life and career choices. It started out as an annual event, however, due to popularity and a need for STEM outreach, it has turned into a biannual event also serving Central Valley students.

"We are excited to share our passion for science with you today,” said the event sponsor, Tony Baylis, director of LLNL's Office of Strategic Diversity and Inclusion Programs. “Our hope is for you to learn about potential careers and be inspired by what you see.”

The Lab was bustling with activity as the students were treated to a "Fun With Science" interative demonstration followed by a lunch where students sat with LLNL employees to learn about their educational pathways and potential careers offered at the Lab. The afternoon was filled with a tour of the National Ignition Facility, the world's most powerful and energetic laser, along with a variety of STEM exhibits and hands-on demonstrations on algae, coding, radiation, robotics, additive manufacturing (3D printing), aquifer science and virtual reality tours.

Students from eight schools across the Bay Area (primarily Oakland and San Francisco) visited Lawrence Livermore for STEM Day, a daylong interactive event focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics for students from underserved communities. Photo by Carrie Martin/LLNL.

At the start of the event, the African American Body of Laboratory Employees (ABLE) presented Leilani Noel, from McClymonds High School in Oakland, with a $700 scholarship. Noel was recommended for the award by Clayton Evans, a physics and engineering teacher at the school.

“No matter how challenging the assignment, Leilani applies herself fully and does not turn in work that is less than her best,” Evans said. "For example, last year I tasked Leilani’s class with making an explanatory diagram for a circuit that can light up and control five light bulbs. Leilani went above and beyond my expectations, making a wall-sized poster with a detailed drawing of the circuit assembly, a schematic diagram clearly showing the circuit connections and segments of C++ code that controlled each of the lights in a blinking pattern. The entire poster was color coded, so a viewer could easily connect the physical circuit to the schematic diagram and the associated code. Leilani’s work demonstrated her creative ability, intelligence and deep sense of pride in anything she undertakes.”

Noel hopes to attend San Diego State in the fall to study business administration.

Special guest speakers in attendance included County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, Robert Carling, City of Livermore vice mayor, and James Campos, director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, Department of Energy.

“Thank you for taking the time to attend and for caring about education,” Haggerty said. “I am so impressed when I get into a room with young minds like yours. I know that in this room today, there are a lot of great minds and we need you for our future. You are our future.”

Carling attended on behalf of the City of Livermore. He shared how he became interested in science and what inspired him to get a master's and Ph.D. in chemistry. “My a-ha moment came at the dawn of the space age, where I was inspired by an influential teacher who showed me the value of chemistry and introduced me to chemistry in a different way. I am hoping something that you see today will spark you to start thinking about science as a career. It can be very rewarding and lead to meeting interesting, dynamic, influential and very smart people. It’s a wonderful career so I encourage you all to put as much enthusiasm and vigor into today’s activities as you can."

Lab physicist and “Fun With Science” presenter Leland Ellison demonstrates a chemistry experiment called Elephant’s Toothpaste with the help of a student volunteer. Photo by Julie Russell/LLNL.
 

“The advancement of science and technology is one of the DOE’s foremost priorities,” Campos said. “As a result, we strive to bridge ethnic disparities in STEM education while disseminating timely information about innovation funding through a wide array of minority stakeholders. Science is truly what the DOE is all about and what this Lab does and represents to our country is phenomenal.”

Campos shared two videos with attendees about the DOE, “This is Energy” and “Energy for the People,” to show how everyone benefits from DOE’s science and technology.

“The participation of minorities in STEM is vital for our country and we are depending on those of you here today for our future.”

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