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IGERT Fellows Run Activities on MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement) Day for School Students


In 2010, two graduate students in the UCSB ConvEne (Conversion of Energy) IGERT, Bright Walker and Alexis Ostrowski, conceived of an activity that would highlight UCSB’s research strength in photovoltaics, and with the help of MRL Education Staff, developed a K-12 workshop activity based on a commercially available solar car kit. The activity consists of a brief PowerPoint presentation focusing on alternative energy, how photovoltaics convert the sun’s light to usable energy, and UCSB research in energy, followed by a hands-on activity in which students build and race small solar cars. This activity was run for about a 100 students on MESA Science and Technology Day. The UCSB organizations, Los Ingenieros and MESA teamed up to bring 700+ underrepresented youth from the Santa Barbara/Ventura/San Luis Obispo Counties to Science and Technology day at UCSB. Science and Technology MESA Day enabled middle and high school students to engage in a wide range of activities, workshops and competitions that centered around Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. According to MESA’s mission statement, the program “enables educationally disadvantaged students to prepare for and graduate from a four-year college or university with a math-bases degree.”

Address Goals

The activity helps the IGERT Fellows learn how to communicate their research to a general audience, in addition to building their presentation skills and confidence levels, and it inculcates in them, a desire to help advance access to STEM education to a population that is underrepresented in these disciplines.