IMPACT LA Fellows | Spotlight

Two-day summer camp ‘IMPACT’-ing kids with STEM activities

NSF-funded program prepares CSULA graduate students to teach in local schools

IMPACT LA campers amused by sea slug:

Fourth class of
IMPACT LA Fellows:

Mark Abbott, electrical engineering major
School: Mendez Learning Center
Partner teacher: Mr. Cerda III
Research focus: Improving efficiency of power generation from vertical axis wind turbines

Edgar Bautista, civil engineering major
School: Stevenson Middle School
Partner teacher: Ms. Godoy
Research focus: Developing a 2-D integrated hydrogeological model with geographic information systems framework and raising awareness of surface/groundwater protection

Hanna Koch, biology major
School: Hollenbeck Middle School
Partner teacher: Ms. Rosser
Research focus: Using sea slugs as a model system to study the evolutionary ecology of range limits

Nichole Lee, biology major
School: Hollenbeck Middle School
Partner teacher: Mr. Semaan
Research focus: Investigating health-promoting interventions and developing more efficacious therapies to protect against stress and disease

Maria Ortega, chemistry major
School: Hollenbeck Middle School
Partner teacher: Msr. Reyes
Research focus: Working on the development of microfluidic chips to analyze binding interactions between molecules

Tino Truong, physics/anthropology major
School: Stevenson Middle School
Partner teacher: Ms. Rojas
Research focus: Extracting data to classify different spectral types of asteroids that will lead to a better understanding of various physical properties

J. Patrick Vincent, electrical engineering major
School: Gabrielino High School
Partner teacher: Mr. Torres-Rangel
Research focus: Designing a high-speed computer memory controller

Jose Zamalloa, biochemistry major
Partner teacher: Mr. Cerezo
School: Stevenson Middle School
Research focus: Study of a cancer prevention protein and better understanding of metal toxicology effect on human proteins

Pictures: A group of middle-school students participating in the 2011 IMPACT LA Summer Camp.
Pictured (front center): Middle-school students react to a blast from a liquid nitrogen rocket launch, organized as part of the 2011 IMPACT LA Summer Camp.

For the third summer in a row, a group of 6th through 8th graders from the local area gathered at Cal State L.A. They observed with anticipation and excitement how high liquid nitrogen can propel a rocket-like canister. They got up close to a variety of tide pool animals, exploring a touch-tank aquarium. They constructed mini solar cookers and powered them up with the sun’s energy to prepare marshmallow treats. They also competed in relay races, Lego activities and water balloon tosses.

These were some of the fun educational science and engineering activities organized for the middle-school students as part of the annual IMPACT LA Summer Camp at CSULA.

Coordinated by the University’s IMPACT LA Graduate Teaching Fellows, the two-day summer camp also helped prepare the fellows to teach and develop hands-on lessons from their research into the classrooms. The 2011 IMPACT LA Fellows are graduate students Mark Abbott, Edgar Bautista, Hanna Koch, Nichole Lee, Maria Ortega, Tino Truong, J. Patrick Vincent, and Jose Zamalloa.

Picture of 2011 IMPACT-LA Fellows.
2011 IMPACT LA Fellows at Cal State L.A.: (standing, l-r) Nichole Lee, Edgar Bautista, Jose Zamalloa, (seated, l-r) J. Patrick Vincent, Hanna Koch, Tino Truong, Maria Ortega and (kneeling) Mark Abbott.

Hoa Do, a mother of two young campers, wrote: “Your two-day program has done more to inspire my children than months of attending the other average, run-of-the-mill summer programs. My son was looking forward to returning on the second day, and before bedtime on that Friday, he said he wanted to be an engineer, just like Mr. Abbott, who conducted the session on battery and energy generation.”

She added, “My daughter showed an interest in the DNA and biology activities, which is more than I could have hoped for since thus far she has only shown an interest in T.V. Thank you again to all IMPACT LA staff for their dedication and hard work to make the program a success.”

Picture of IMPACT LA boat race winner.
Melody Campos of North Park Middle School is a member of the winning cardboard boat team.

Other fellow-led activities for this year’s camp included styrofoam cup air drums, marshmallow shooters, mini electric screwdrivers, DNA-molecule balloons and more. The children also had the opportunity to demonstrate their creativity and design skills in the annual Cardboard Boat Race engineering team challenge.

This month, the IMPACT LA Fellows will begin serving as visiting scientists and engineers at local schools, partnering with the schoolteachers to foster children’s interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

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“As an IMPACT Graduate Fellow, I will be bringing my research on biology/exercise neuroscience into the classroom,” said Lee. “Hopefully, the middle-school children can see that they can become scientists while gaining a new understanding of what science is all about.”

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Truong said, “With my research on physical characterization of asteroids, I hope to provide the middle-school students a better understanding of the world around them through science. I plan to coordinate numerous hands-on activities to invoke their curiosity and imagination of how physics and math affect them on a daily basis.”

Background: “IMPACT” stands for Improving Minority Partnerships and Access through Computer/Information Science/Engineering-related Teaching. Directed by Nancy Warter-Perez, a Cal State L.A. professor of electrical and computer engineering, the University’s IMPACT LA program is funded by a five-year $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation. In its third year, the program awards each fellow a $30,000 stipend, along with $10,500 for fees, books and travel, to conduct research and develop classroom activities.

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