2020 News

Businesses step up for STEM Education

Dec 4, 2020

San Francisco Business Times reported that on Dec 4, 2020 the San Francisco Business Times hosted a panel on the state of science, technology, engineering and math education in the Bay Area. This virtual event explored what schools, businesses and policy leaders are doing to invest in STEM education and help close the gender and minority gap in technology programs.

The panel included Berkeley Lab’s K-12 Programs Manager Faith Dukes, who discussed the lab's outreach initiatives. Dr. Dukes said the lab has “close to 3,300 employees in Berkeley and Emeryville, doing research on bio sciences, computer science, physical science, energy science, energy technologies, as well as earth and environmental science.” Dr. Dukes highlighted that “we want to make sure that the Berkeley Lab is visible to people right next door in Richmond, in San Leandro, in Oakland, and in Berkeley,” and “we’re thinking about getting students in K-5 excited about STEM and trying to go in and do demonstrations along with their teachers in order to support their curriculum.” According to the transcript, Dr. Dukes also discussed a “week-long program that started with SLAC National Lab at SAGE-S, Science Accelerating Girls Engagement in STEM, where we brought together 100 young women virtually for a program for a week and exposed them to close to 100 scientists that all volunteered over the course of the week between the two national labs.”

Congratulations 2020 SLAM Finalists and Winners

Sep 17, 2020

This week, some of our volunteers participated as finalists in the 2020 Berkeley Lab Research SLAM. At this annual event, early career scientists are challenged to present a compelling three minute overview of their research in a language appropriate to non-specialist audiences. Many of the participants noted that past involvement in K-12 outreach activities provided them with great opportunities to get comfortable with sharing their work to broad audiences. One of the benefits of participating in our programs is the opportunity to practice public speaking with younger or non-scientific listeners. We would like to congratulate all of the award winners as well as recognize their additional public engagement and outreach work.

All four of the top prize winners have been incredibly engaged volunteers with this year's K-12 programs. (Top photo) Revathi Jambunathan, this year's first prize winner, presented her super-computer research on pulsars. Revathi is also a Teaching Scholar who volunteers with outreach throughout the year and partnered with Creative Resources for Science. (2nd photo) This year's people's choice winner, Jonelle Basso, linked her research on plant-microbe interactions with Beyonce's Single Ladies. Jonelle volunteered as a guest speaker for this summer's Director's Apprenticeship Program for high school students and shared how data science is used in her career.

The tied second prize winners, (3rd photo) Mariah Parker and (bottom photo) Sara Gushgari-Doyle, have both volunteered as Live Science hosts. Mariah's research with Chemical Sciences focuses on solving radioactive puzzles, but at home she also enjoys bread making. You can check out Mariah's guide to sourdough starters in our first Live Science episode. As a Teaching Scholar, Mariah has also helped with National Lab Day. In addition to hosting the Soil & Sustainability episode of Live Science, Sara has spent the past year mentoring Pilot City students with Antioch High School. Read more about Sara's work below in a previous news post.

Two additional finalists, Shwetha Acharya and Ligia Diana Pinto de Almeida Amorim are also avid volunteers with us. Shwetha has participated in Live Science, hosting Soil & Sustainability alongside Sara while Diana helped out with designing the Intro to Python classes for this summer's Director's Apprenticeship Program for high school students.

It's great to see how volunteering and outreach have supported these researchers' careers. Huge congratulations to all the participants for their incredible presentations!

SAGE-S Summer Camp

Aug 7, 2020

SAGE-S (Science Accelerating Girls' Engagement in STEM) is a one week long summer camp for public high school students hosted by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. This program aimed to foster innovation, grow the STEM community, and engage intelligent, creative, and passionate young women in the everyday life of scientists and engineers. After making the difficult decision to transition this camp into an online format, SLAC and Berkeley Lab worked together to create a completely new virtual camp. We were at first challenged to adapt all learning materials into a brand new format, but were also granted an opportunity to reach out to more students than previously imagined. Ultimately, we welcomed over 90 young girls for a week-long program of STEM and professional development.

Each day of the week, students began their morning with career talks, where speakers shared their journeys in STEM from high school up until their current positions. (Top right) Speakers emphasized that there are a lot of windy roads leading to their current roles, and reassured students that there is no single right way to achieve their professional goals. Within smaller groups, students were also able to speak with professionals individually as part of job shadow sessions, in which volunteers shared more about their day to day work and answered questions on their specific fields. The program also included hands-on projects that students could work with at home. Project materials were shipped to approximately 120 homes, including both students and volunteers. (Bottom right) Students started the week with building a small breadboard to light a lightbulb, and followed with a discussion on sustainable energy. Other projects included laser study and scratch coding. For some students, this was their first experience working with code! Finally, the day concluded with professional development seminars. (Middle left) Topics included growth mindset, effective communication, building professional relationships, and leadership where students engaged in discussions and activities to practice new skills.

At the end of the week, the program concluded with presentations about the different components of the camp to the cohort, volunteers, family, and friends. Many students highlighted that being able to talk to scientists and researchers in small groups allowed them to gain a lot of insight into fields they never knew existed! Thanks to the numerous volunteers from both SLAC and Berkeley Lab for helping run the program, some are pictured below.

Maria Zurek and the project kit
SAGE-S Camp coordinators and volunteers
Bashir Mohammed's career talk

Director’s Apprenticeship Program

July 30, 2020

This past month, our first Director's Apprenticeship Program cohort completed their summer internship program. The Berkeley Lab Director’s Apprenticeship Program (BLDAP) seeks to overcome systemic barriers to STEM by providing educational and professional opportunities to underrepresented/low income students in the Bay Area. Over the four week program, 17 high school students developed fundamental data science skills through python classes and projects, developed confidence in scientific research, and connected with researchers from Berkeley Lab. The summer program culminated with the students presenting original projects to their peers, mentors, family, and friends. Highlighted above are some examples of project presentations. (Top right) Some students reviewed what they learned in Python and practiced their skills on new data sets. (Bottom right) Other students used their Arduino sensors to measure the air quality in their home environment. (Bottom left and bottom middle) Students also presented their EcoFab experiment growth results, reporting how plant growth varied in different media. They will soon be receiving certificates of completion from Representative Barbara Lee, Senator Kamala Harris, and Senator Dianne Feinstein commending their achievements in and commitments to STEM. Following this program, everyone is excited to continue into STEM fields ranging from environmental science to astronomy.

We had an incredible number of Berkeley Lab staff volunteers support various components of the program. Many helped with python learning by supporting lesson planning, hosting office hours, and reviewing notebooks. Others developed independent projects. We sent packages with Ecological Fabrications used to study plant root growth as well as Arduino sensors used to study air quality. Students were instructed on how to set up these projects and then developed original research questions to study. A number of researchers also joined us for career talks and data science seminars to introduce the students to the wide variety of professions in STEM and explain how data science is applied to real world applications respectively. For many of the students, meeting the diverse set of volunteers throughout the program has been a highlight of their summer. The program would not have been such a success without the leadership of program coordinator Ajayi Anwansedo and the support of all these volunteers.

Pilot City Student Presentations

June 4, 2020

Huge congratulations to the Pilot City program students for completing their projects! For the past few months, students from Antioch High School have been working with Berkeley Lab mentors on COVID-19 related research projects. Pictured above, students developed ideas on how to improve testing and developed a website consolidating resources for understanding the situation. In the first image is Sarah Gushgari-Doyle, who served as the students' Berkeley Lab mentor. In their final presentations, the students shared their projects to a panel of mentors, who reviewed and asked questions.

Pilot City connects industry professionals with teachers and students, to support classroom teaching and provide individual mentorship respectively. Through our partnership with Pilot City, we have also held workshops with teachers and visited schools for outreach. Pictured below are lab members of Romy Chakraborty's group on a visit to Antioch High earlier this year.

Professional Skill Building with CSU East Bay

May 25 - June 5, 2020

Many CSU East Bay recent and upcoming graduates are entering an extremely competitive job market completely transformed by COVID-19 and the need for social distancing to protect community health. This virtual professional development workshop, hosted by The Institute for STEM Education, provided valuable skills and feedback to support these students.

A total of 83 students participated in a two and half hour workshop that covered essential components for effective resume and cover letter writing, as well as interviewing skills. Following the workshops, students had the opportunity to have professionals provide feedback on their resumes and cover letters and participate in 35-minute mock interviews with a panel of professionals. 50 students received written feedback on their materials from two to three professionals and 44 participated in mock interviews with a panel of professionals.

Learn more about the program here: www.instituteforstemed.com/post/capp-covid-workshop-6-2020

In addition, the Institute for STEM Education at CSU East Bay is planning to extend the mock interviews throughout the summer and will continue recruiting professionals who are interested in participating in informational interviews to share their career paths with juniors, seniors, graduate students, and recent graduates.

Thank you to our Berkeley Lab volunteers for their hard work:

Prabudhya Bhattacharyya
Maria Zurek

Women In STEM Outreach Day

January 30, 2020

On Thursday, January 30, Berkeley Lab hosted 99 young women from the Engineering Academies at Richmond and Pinole Valley High Schools. The students took part in a day of activities highlighting women in STEM at the Laboratory and their career pathways. A career panel featuring Tammy Campbell, Mekena Metcalf, Ashley White, and Jessica Granderson covered non linear career pathways, advice on building confidence, and their reasons for pursuing a STEM career.

Nearly 40 Berkeley Lab staff volunteered to take students on short tours and spend time sharing their career pathways during a networking lunch. During lunch, students spoke with staff about their journeys to the Lab since high school. Small groups of students were then able to visit IGB, Flexlab, ALS, NERSC, building 70 labs and the Machine Shop. It was a wonderful day for women in STEM, and we look forward to seeing what these young women will accomplish!