Sometimes, it is nice to get out of the classroom, leave textbooks behind, and learn in a different setting. Chaminade Middle School students did just that on Wednesday, March 21 during the Distinguished Science Speaker series. Organized by Science Department Chair, Margie Chespak, the series is in its second year at Chaminade, and is a program designed to expose students to careers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM).
Five Chaminade parents who work in various STEM careers spoke to the entire Middle School, and offered insights and advice. Ken Kubo, a Northrup Gruman software engineer showed the audience how the academics of geometry, physics, and algebra created a popular video game. Next, students learned how Cindi Hein, M.S., R.D., a registered dietician from Mead Johnson Nutrition took “the road less travelled” and went from earning a B.A. in History to becoming a registered dietician. Dr. David Gerwe, a Boeing Company technical fellow then wowed students with his work on lasers, telescopes, satellites, computers, and electronics. Students also learned about the many career options offered by public health from Seira Kurian, M.D., MPH, who is a public health physician with the Los Angeles County Department of Health. Finally, Fox Engineering and Operations Senior Vice President, Monte Kuklenski walked the audience through the building and operation of a Fox network center in Houston.
Each speaker had something different to offer the students, but they all encouraged students to work on a well-rounded education and not simply focus on the math and science. They talked about the importance of developing communication skills through the liberal arts and writing.
While students certainly enjoyed the opportunity to take their learning outside the classroom, they especially enjoyed seeing how the subjects they learn are used in practical, real-life situations. Thomas Price ’16 said, “It was a great way to…learn from a different perspective…to learn from professionals in their real life jobs, to show you how what science teaches you, how you can use it in society.”
After the presentations ended, six students, along with their science teachers, ate lunch with the speakers. They used the time to talk about the future of learning in the STEM disciplines, and what Chaminade can do to prepare. The speakers then sat at tables during the main lunch period and answered questions from students.