"I learned a whole new side of me that I never knew I had," exclaimed eighth grader Lauren Miller as she tested circuit boards and made her LED light shine. Her fellow camp friend Alice Chu was also surprised at "how fun science can be."
Last week, 28 girls gathered at IBM Research - Almaden, some having no idea how interested they were in math and science until they built a PC, had fun with liquid nitrogen, and checked out a homemade robot by local high schoolers that can play soccer. IBM rockstar volunteer Rick DiPietro was able to win over a handful more with his "cool chemistry" session. The homemade slime they created was too cool to forget about -- and seeing a cotton ball explode was something many of the girls talked about after the event.
Led by IBM Outreach Program Manager Bob Martinez and Corporate Citizenship and Community Affairs Manager Jennifer Hernandez, 42 IBMers volunteered their time throughout the week to help the girls navigate through several science projects. While at Almaden, the group also got to learn about the A/V field with leader Alex DeLuca, how to give an effective business presentation, and had a tour of the site that included visits to the computer rooms, telepresence videoconferencing rooms and the lobby's latest addition, the OmniGlobe. In the middle of the week, the girls were treated to a field trip to San Francisco's California Academy of Science, where the living roof and the four-story rain forest were favorite exhibits.
Seeing the math spark in their eyes
Bob Martinez, who has been running this program with the help of his Core team for the past six years, credits his IBM colleagues for the time they spend volunteering, not only during camp but throughout the year. Because of the active engagement in youth outreach by IBM employees in the Silicon Valley, Bob and team have developed partnerships with several schools in the area, most with a high concentration of minority students. Additional programs such as Traducelo Ahora and MentorPlace, help give young kids exposure to math and science, which according to experts, is crucial in helping develop the next generation of high-tech professionals.
"The kids get exposure to science and technology during the camp, but they also learn other things that help them prepare for their future," says Martinez. "Creating their project presentations using a manuscript versus conversational method, different team-building exercises and being able to talk intelligently about what they've learned are all things they can take away from this camp and help them excel no matter what career they choose. But when you see the spark in their eye, that's when you know we've done what we set out to do."
These middle school students didn't know they were interested in math and science until they built a PC, had fun with liquid nitrogen and checked out a homemade robot that plays soccer.
This story originally appeared on the IBM intranet. It was written by Christina Howell.
Last updated on July 7, 2010