ISU labs offer hands-on experience

Through the American Chemical Society’s Project SEED, Science Bound participants and Lincoln High School students Abi Contreras, Fatima Jalloh and Luis Martinez worked in Iowa State University (ISU) laboratories for eight weeks this summer. The teenagers learned what it is like to be a chemist while also gaining experiences they say will help them excel in their upcoming classes.

“It’s a lot different than science courses you might take in high school,” said Martinez, who participated in the program for a second consecutive summer. “Those labs and experiments are designed to almost always work. Here, a lot of times you might fail, but you’ll realize that if you change one or two things, you might get a better yield or get a reaction to work.”

The Lincoln High School students were guided by ISU Chemistry professors Javier Vela, Emily Smith and Malika Jeffries-El.

The students worked on projects with a wide range of applications including the creation of solar cells and increasing the speed of data storage in electronics.

“These types of experiences, which provide students with opportunities to work on research with real-world implications, are critical to ensuring that today’s youth understand the role they can play in STEM,” said Science Bound Director Connie Hargrave.

In addition, the Science Bound students gain the added benefit of bringing their experiences from Project SEED to their high school courses. This is what Martinez found after working in an ISU lab last summer.

“This program really helped me in my AP Chemistry class,” said Martinez. “A lot of the students have problems with lab write-ups, but that was a breeze because I was already used to it.”

These are the kinds of benefits Science Bound wants their students to receive from summer programs.

“We’re excited to know these opportunities are helping students now,” said Hargrave, “but we are also confident they will help them develop into tomorrow’s STEM leaders.”

Science Bound alumna publishes paper

When Science Bound alum Jessica Maciel-Hernandez began participating in summer research as a Lincoln High School freshman, she wasn’t thinking too much about her career. She was far more concerned with the prospect of camping for three weeks as part of the fieldwork.

“The first time I participated in the summer research was also the first time I ever went camping,” said Maciel-Hernandez, who’s now a senior at Iowa State University. “I’m a city person, so it was definitely a learning experience in many ways. I didn’t know if I would like it or not, but I told myself that I would do it for the whole time no matter what.”

Maciel-Hernandez’s willingness to try new experiences paid off. After continuing to work with the same research group through college, Maciel-Hernandez earned recognitions as a co-author of a research paper. The research she worked on indicates that among painted turtles – a species whose gender is influenced by nesting temperature – the mothers choose nesting sites partially based on gender selection.

The summer research program MacielHernandez took part in is called Turtle Camp Research and Education in Ecology (TREE). ISU professor Fredric Janzen runs this ecological research program, which tries to immerse high school and undergraduate students from groups that are traditionally underrepresented in the field. Janzen and his graduate student Timothy Mitchell were the other researchers included as authors on the published paper with Maciel-Hernandez.

Before participating in TREE, Maciel-Hernandez wasn’t sure about where she wanted to go with her career. Both TREE and her other work with Janzen’s group helped spur her interest in research, and she’s now hoping to find a research-related job after graduating.

Parent shares positive experience with Science Bound

Angela Mickens, surgical nurse at Iowa Methodist Medical Center, and parent of four children, encouraged her youngest child, Xarius Mickens (Roosevelt) to participate in the Science Bound program when he was invited as a 7th grader at Moulton Extended Learning Center.

“He always showed an interest and intellect in science and math. I knew this program could groom and support him in his academic endeavors,” said Mickens.

Mickens wanted Xarius to participate in Science Bound because it would give him the opportunity to explore his options in science and math.

Xarius has had many positive experiences in Science Bound, according to Mickens. One of the summer programs that benefited Xarius was “Learn and Earn”. Mickens said “the program gave him a format of what society expects: positive work ethics and earning what you deserve.”

Mickens believes the Science Bound program helped her son become more comfortable socially as well. “I have seen Xarius become more engaged with the world around him since participating with the program,” said Mickens. Science Bound has also helped Xarius learn and develop skills that will benefit him in his career.

“One skill I hope that Xarius will gain from participating in the program is proper presentation of self, in which the world can see what he can contribute as a human being,” said Mickens.

Additionally, she shared that the opportunity that Science Bound offers provides students with academic and personal support, which includes access to financial resources and professional references. “The men being present to teach my young man has had the most profound effect of all,” added Mickens.

“Xarius will be attending Iowa State University in the fall of 2016 and will major in chemical engineering,” said his proud mother. “I see him accomplishing his degree in chemical engineering and working for a pharmacological company of his choice.”

Des Moines 2016 Honors Banquet: Knowledge, Passion, Impact

Science Bound celebrated a recordbreaking year with 59 high school seniors graduating from the pre-
college programs in three school districts (Des Moines 36, Denison 12, Marshalltown 11) and 12 Iowa State University (ISU) graduates. In Des Moines, the 2016 Honors Banquet took place at DuPont Pioneer’s Carver Center in Johnston, Iowa on April 21. More than 180 guests attended the banquet, including 36 high school and 9 Iowa State University seniors, to celebrate and to hear the President of DuPont Pioneer, Paul E. Schickler, who delivered the keynote address.

According to Dr. Connie Hargrave, Science Bound director, the banquet is, “more than a celebration, it’s a formal public acknowledgement of the accomplishments of these seniors. It’s a visual confirmation of the ability of each of our students to excel in college and their career.”

Schickler emphasized to the students the role of passion in their futures. “Knowledge and passion combined can create a positive impact that makes the world a better place,” said Schickler. “Passion, energy, and commitment, will help you be a part of the solutions that we need today.”

“It’s both an honor and a big deal that DuPont Pioneer President Paul Schickler is recognizing the importance and the significance of our Science Bound students,” said Dr. Hargrave. 

Student speaker Bryan Marroquin Martinez (Roosevelt, Callanan) is just one of those significant students. Marroquin Martinez, who received his bachelor’s degree in construction engineering from ISU in May, shared that although his start was a bumpy one, participating in Science Bound made his time in college rewarding.

“When I joined Science Bound I was a 14-year-old with hopes of college but little direction and support for getting me there. Now I am a young man, who on July 5, 2016, will start a new job as a control engineer with the Baker Group in Des Moines.” said Marroquin Martinez.

During the evening Science Bound also recognized the students who went the extra mile, during their high school career by seeking out opportunities and making positive things happen. Two Science Bound graduates, Madeline Edmonds (East) and Adbisalan Omar (Roosevelt) share the Student of the Year award for 2016.

“These students understand that this is their time – their time to learn, grow, and develop themselves and they have consistently made the most of the Science Bound opportunity,” said Dr. Hargrave.