In honor of National Engineers Week, Broadcom took five Broadcom MASTERS® science fair winners on a whirlwind tour of the California Assembly and Senate to underscore the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.
California legislators including assemblymen Chris Holden (41st District-Pasadena), Manuel Perez (56th District- Coachella) and Bob Wieckowski (25th District-Fremont) welcomed these young constituents- a talented group of middle schoolers from California public schools – with a real-world discussion on how an early focus on science and math can make a tremendous difference in students’ engagement with the subjects; especially as they lay tracks for their careers.
The five student lobbyists are familiar faces to the Foundation — all were either among the 300 semifinalists or the 30 finalists in the 2012 Broadcom MASTERS science fair competition for middle schoolers. The Broadcom MASTERS (Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars) program helps middle school students translate a personal interest into a passion for science, engineering and innovation, and encourages them to continue to engage with STEM learning through high school and beyond.
In addition to presenting their award-winning science project findings, each student and their parent had the opportunity to speak one-on-one with their local representative. Topics ranged from support for local science fairs to the implementation of Next Generation Science Standards and STEM training for teachers to enable them to engage in project-based learning.
The students learned how science and politics can intersect when Assemblyman Wieckowski brought in his Science Fellow Dharia McGrew for an interesting conversation on how a STEM background might actually lead to a role in government. After McGrew earned her Ph.D. in molecular biology, she was awarded a fellowship through The California Council on Science and Technology, and is now leveraging her experience as a scientist to provide research-based technical advice to Wieckowski on hot topics such as healthcare and environmental sustainability.
In addition to the Capitol visits, they ended the day with State Superintendent for Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, a former science teacher who now holds the highest education post in California. Torlakson challenged the students to take their science and engineering innovation to new levels and share their results with other lawmakers and community groups.
“Superintendent Torlakson was delighted to see the exemplary work of our MASTERS students, representing the very best and brightest of California’s public schools,” said Paula Golden, Executive Director, Broadcom Foundation. “He shares our emphasis on after school project-based learning which is important to the success of Broadcom Foundation’s STEM initiatives.”
Whether they were touring the Assembly Chamber floor or learning more about the legislative process, the students inspired the legislators with their dedication to learning, enthusiasm for their science and engineering projects, and commitment to excellence in STEM.