By Anna Lynn Spitzer
Irvine, CA, November 3rd, 2014 — Mentioning STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics – to middle-school students as potential fields of study might inspire glazed looks of utter indifference. But showing them technology up close and personal, and demonstrating the ways it enriches and improves their lives would most likely elicit much more enthusiastic responses.
That is the goal of science teachers and administrators at the Tustin Unified School District. Along with executives from the Irvine Company, they toured Calit2 last week to see technology in action and discuss plans for sharing the excitement with their students.
The educators are seeking ways to partner with the UCI division of Calit2 in an effort to encourage students to develop a love for science, and more specifically, an interest in STEM fields.
“STEM is not just engineering, which a lot of kids may think is boring,” said Calit2 Irvine Director G.P. Li, himself an engineer. “There’s a ‘wow factor’ when you see that technology enables lots of cool things, from micro- and nanotechnology to art, healthcare, energy and more. We want to excite kids about the possibilities.”
Li emphasized that since its inception, Calit2 has striven to “bridge the gap” between the institute and its many constituents. "We have been very successful in bridging the gaps on campus by encouraging and funding interdisciplinary research. We have bridged the gap with the business community by educating them about what we do and getting them involved in our research. And we continue to seek ways to continue to bridge the gap between the university and the community at large,” he said. “We want people to understand the practical applications of technology and how it can be used to benefit society.
“This program can help us get school-aged children interested in careers in science and technology by showing them that these are exciting things to study.”