Time to ENGage

LSU STEM Workshop Offers 16 Demos to Students

May 6, 2019

Group of students in front of screenBATON ROUGE, LA – LSU College of Engineering faculty and students recently spent the first day of their spring break working with middle schoolers as part of the college’s ENGage program, a one-day workshop designed by LSU Chemical Engineering Assistant Professor Adam Melvin and LSU Assistant Director of Student Programs and Outreach Adrienne Steele to expose young students to the STEM field.

This year, 86 students in grades 6-8 came from Emily C. Watkins in LaPlace, West St. John in Edgard, and North Banks Middle and Woodlawn Elementary in Baton Rouge. The 15 LSU faculty members, 40 graduate students and 18 peer mentors held 16 demonstrations for the young students throughout the day that included how to help surgeons find tiny tumors; seeing how gold and silver nanoparticles can be used in chemical reactions; learning about DNA sequencing; differentiating light oils from heavy oils under fluorescent light; doing titration experiments as part of microfluidics; seeing how the Building Information Modeling, or BIM, Cave helps construction managers; and showing students how to produce electricity using seawater and river water.

“I was motivated to start ENGage after spending time at STEM nights at local area middle and high schools, in addition to volunteering at the LASM Engineering Day,” Melvin said. “I found that most students in Baton Rouge thought the only job for an engineer was working in the petrochemical industry. Many students didn’t know what bioengineering was and that there were engineers who could help doctors and patients. I wanted to provide an opportunity for students to learn about the diversity of jobs and challenges that engineers undertake on a daily basis.”

“Adam approached me to help him create this event, specifically wanting to target middle school students, because traditionally, that’s when kids, especially girls, start to lose interest in pursuing STEM careers,” Steele said. “We formed a planning committee with four peer mentors to come up with the title and overall plans, and the first ENGage was held in 2017.”

Over the past few years, LSU has seen as many as 200 students attend ENGage, with the percentage of female and minority students holding steady each year. 

“This year, there were 48 percent female and 78 percent minority students,” Steele said. “Also, more and more schools are finding out about ENGage, as we had two schools from out of town attend for the first time.”

Melvin and Steele hope to eventually host an ENGage event in the fall, as well as the spring.

“ENGage is proud of its outstanding faculty who teach middle school students about all of the cool stuff going on at LSU,” Melvin said.


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Contact: Libby Haydel

Communications Specialist