The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) program at UCLA is tailored for middle and high school students coming from the Fulfillment Fund. The Fulfillment Fund is a Los Angeles based non-profit organization that seeks to prepare students for college through classroom instruction, mentoring and experiential learning opportunities. The STEM program is intended to educate students on the basics of science and engineering, expose them to world-renowned campus facilities at UCLA and, importantly, encourage innovation and creativity in the hopes of motivating students to pursue STEM-related careers.
Below is student feedback upon completion of the six session engineering block:
- "Participating in this program supported my idea that I do want to work in the medical field and I hope to get more experience with bioengineering in the future"
- "The program affected my decision by letting me explore the different fields of STEM and helped get interested in other fields of STEM. It also helped reinforce my interests in engineering"
- "Participating in this program encouraged me to major in a STEM field, since not only the intellectual benefit comes from a life like this, but the materials and subjects that these professionals work with are astonishing"
- "I'm a PhD candidate studying pancreatic cancer in the Division of Digestive Diseases at UCLA. As a first-generation American, my exposure to science and healthcare-related fields were limited until my junior year of college when I joined a laboratory on a research scholarship. It is vital to educate students on the opportunities of STEM-related fields at a much younger age and encourage them to give back to their communities through education and professional training. For this reason, I approached Dr. Gary Gitnick to create a STEM program at UCLA to bring middle and high school students to a world-class institution and get them involved and excited about science. In other words, we started the STEM program at UCLA because there was a need for it. By bringing Fulfillment Fund students to UCLA, we are exposing them to healthcare-related careers that they may have never considered or had exposure to prior to signing up for our program. The engineering component, comprised of 10 high school students, led by Dr. Shyam Natarajan, was a huge success! Our goal was to integrate an engineering/technology-based curriculum with hands-on activities to reaffirm the material and bring it to life. At the conclusion of the engineering block, students were surveyed and when asked, "How did participating in this program affect your decisions about your future plans?" one student replied with, "The program affected my decision by letting me explore the different fields of STEM and helped get interested in other fields of STEM. It also helped reinforce my interest in Engineering." In fact, in the first session when students were asked, "What is your interest in a bioengineering career relative to the STEM program at UCLA (1-not at all interested, 5-very interested), the average was a 2.8. After the STEM program, the average jumped to 4.4. Clearly, the students desire and make the most of these opportunities, if given the chance. In the spring, I will lead the science component of the STEM program, which will focus on biomedical research and career paths in science. Students will be in a laboratory setting and learn about the biology of human diseases, cutting-edge technologies and drug development. Students will be trained to work with DNA, protein, and human cancer cells in order to prepare them for the classroom and future research opportunities. The Fulfillment Fund and UCLA are working together to facilitate the process of learning and cultivate the next generation of healthcare workers."