Community Engagement Partners Mudders, Youngsters

April 1, 2014

In an ongoing effort to find tomorrow’s scientists today, Harvey Mudd College is invested in community engagement programs aimed at generating interest in STEM studies, especially among underrepresented populations. Two such programs, coordinated by student organizations the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Science Bus, take place Saturday, April 5.

The Harvey Mudd chapter of SWE holds its annual Women Engineers and Scientists of Tomorrow (WEST) Conference from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning. The one-day event features a discussion panel of current female Mudd students and workshops aimed at attracting young women to STEM fields, with particular focus this year on computational exercises.

Invitations are sent to high schools across Southern California. About 300 young women are expected to attend this year.

“We are excited about furthering interest in STEM fields among high school females and showing them some of the resources available at Mudd,” said Kaitlyn Dwelle ’15, SWE chapter co-president and WEST Conference coordinator.

Anna Patterson, vice president of engineering at Google and a Harvey Mudd College trustee, is the keynote speaker. Workshop hosts include associate professor of engineering Qimin Yang, along with other Harvey Mudd faculty. Registration is required and is $20 per person (lunch is included).

While WEST participants partake of puzzles, thinking games and other computational challenges, Science Bus hosts its annual Science Day. From 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., students from four elementary schools will be treated to a day of hands-on experimentation and demonstrations presented by student-led Science Bus. Fourth and fifth grade participants will try their hand at civil engineering by competing to build the tallest marshmallow and spaghetti tower, and will test their biology chops attempting to extract fruit and vegetable DNA.

The interactive classes will be held in the Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning and taught by current undergraduates. Chemistry and robotics demonstrations will also be offered.

Founded in 2006, the Science Bus program pairs student volunteers from across The Claremont Colleges with local schools to conduct science lessons on location, often including a demonstration, experiment and discussion. Volunteers write, test and implement all lessons, which range from water erosion to Coke and Mentos rockets. Program volunteers provide practical and positive interactions with science to encourage more young people to pursue higher education and careers in the STEM disciplines.

Allison Lim ’16, Science Bus president, believes that Science Bus embodies Harvey Mudd’s mission statement of giving back to the community and understanding the impact students’ knowledge can have on the world. “All of us at Mudd are so passionate about science and want to pursue careers in the STEM fields; inspiring kids and getting them excited about science is a great way to spread our passion and give back,” says Lim.

Science Day 2014 is free to students, parents and teachers from four participating Pomona Unified School District locations: Barfield Elementary, La Verne Science and Technology Charter School, Harrison School and Vejar Elementary. Registration is encouraged.

For information about the WEST Conference or Science Day, contact Gabriela Gamiz at ggamiz@hmc.edu, or call 909.607.4575.