March 30, 2012

LSU Peer Mentors and Diversity Ambassadors donned their LSU Engineering polos and enthusiastically headed to Glasgow Middle School recently to participate in the school’s first-ever STEM night – a night of activities dedicated to introducing middle school children to STEM or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. 

Organized by Summer Dann, project coordinator, STEP, peer mentors and Diversity Ambassadors joined with ChemDemo and Scope on a Rope students from the College of Science and the Cain Center’s Geaux Teach program to demonstrate STEM principles. The demonstrations and activities included: “From rocks to your car,” snap circuits, lemon and coca cola batteries, marshmallow towers and balloon sharks to highlight the fields of petroleum engineering, electrical engineering, chemical engineering, civil engineering and mechanical engineering respectively.

“We are all so grateful to Ms. Dann and to the LSU community for sending such knowledgeable, vibrant and engaging graduate students to conduct experiments with our middle schoolers and their siblings,” said Mary Juneau, Glasgow Middle School parent. “One of our teachers of students in the traditional program had tears in her eyes as she noted that she had never seen so many of her students enjoying an after-school, academic activity. Each experiment was fun and thought-provoking.”

The College of Engineering’s mission is to impart knowledge and learning skills to its students while also creating new knowledge and seeking innovative ways to improve people’s lives. Part of this mission also includes a commitment to the local K-12 community to help inspire the future generation of engineers.

“I enjoyed going to the middle school outreach to bring awareness of the field of engineering and how it relates to everyday life,” said James Parker, Jr., civil engineering student and Peer Mentor.

The Peer Mentors and Diversity Ambassadors participate in a variety of hands-on, educational demonstrations in the Greater Baton Rouge community each semester. By introducing engineering concepts to diverse K-12 student populations, the CoE hopes to encourage these students to attend LSU and pursue a STEM career.

“I was glad to be a part of the community outreach because I feel I learned as much from the kids as I taught them, and I am grateful for the opportunity to reach out the kids in middle school,” said Emma Allain, mechanical engineering senior and Peer Mentor.

According to Juneau, more than 400 children and parents attend this inaugural event.

“The PTO hopes to make this an annual event to celebrate STEM and to encourage our students to pursue careers in those fields,” Juneau said.

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About STEP’s Peer Mentoring Group

The College of Engineering’s (CoE) peer mentor program is a subdivision of STEP (STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics - Talent Expansion Program), which is funded through a National Science Foundation grant. Founded in 2007, STEP provides freshmen with opportunities to interact with faculty, staff, upperclassmen and student organizations to foster a support system that encourages excellence both in and out of the classroom.

The peer mentor group emerged in 2007 following the success of STEP’s inaugural summer bridge camp, Encountering Engineering (E2). Last year, more than 50 upperclassmen served as peer mentors. Peer mentors are recruited and trained during the spring semester. Training consists of two formal sessions that cover a variety of topics in preparation for the incoming freshman class.

In addition to working in the E2 summer camp, the peer mentors participate in Engineering 1050, a two-credit hour, fall semester course designed to educate students about engineering and construction management careers. They also assist the College in educational outreach activities, such as Engineering Extravaganza, science fairs and robotics teams.

About LSU’s Diversity Ambassadors

As one of the liaisons between the Baton Rouge community and LSU’s College of Engineering (CoE), the Diversity Ambassadors organization strives to increase awareness and interest in the field of engineering among the next generation of diverse engineering students.

Conceived in fall 2009, the Diversity Ambassadors organization is an outreach team of female and minority LSU engineering students, who serve as role models, mentors and tutors to Baton Rouge K-12 students. By conducting engineering science demonstrations and hands-on activities at local middle and high schools, Diversity Ambassadors promote diversity recruitment and retention efforts for LSU CoE.

The organization’s mission is to: increase diversity in engineering, increase interest in science, technology, engineering and math-related fields, positively serve and impact the community, and provide positive role models for minority and female K-12 students.



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