The Samueli Foundation and the Broadcom Foundation teamed with National Lab Day for a half-day conference designed to match up Orange County teachers and students with volunteer scientists and engineers from local companies, organizations and universities in an effort to spur student interest and engagement in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs.
The conference was held on October 15, 2010 at Broadcom Corporation's Irvine, California headquarters, and included interactive laboratory sessions with elementary, middle and high school students, in which volunteer engineers and scientists demonstrated to educators and business, nonprofit and civic leaders the effectiveness of discovery-based science experiences for students in grades K-12.
The National Lab Day Orange County conference drew 150 participants, with speakers including Suzanne Immerman, Director of Philanthropic Engagement & Special Assistant to U.S. Department of Education, Secretary Arne Duncan, a member of President Barack Obama's Cabinet, and Camsie A. Matis, Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator and 2009 recipient of the Excellence in Mathematics Award, presented by President Obama.
"Our goal is to encourage Orange County to adopt the National Lab Day platform, an online resource developed through the Hidary Foundation that provides a matching tool for teachers, afterschool program leaders, mentors and volunteers to match up online, coming together in a variety of ways to provide students with lab instruction and resource tools as well as providing the inspiration they need to excel in STEM subjects throughout high school and beyond," said Gerald Solomon, executive director of the Samueli Foundation.
"The National Lab Day initiative is an innovative way to tap into Orange County's deep talent pool of science and engineering experts – those individuals who want to make a difference in our nation's efforts to improve STEM education – and connect and network them into volunteer efforts and programs in their communities," said Paula Golden, executive director of Broadcom Foundation.
The National Lab Day conference at Broadcom included five hands-on laboratory sessions in which an Orange County teacher, a volunteer scientist or engineer and five or six students participated in various discovery-based science and engineering experiences. Conference participants observed the sessions, noting the interactions between educators, volunteers and the students. After the lab sessions, participants re-convened to discuss next steps in implementing the National Lab Day model in Orange County.
Earlier this year, the Samueli Foundation hosted the 2010 STEM Summit that brought together national, state and local thought leaders to examine means and methods to address the need to ratchet up STEM learning in order to ensure Orange County students will be competitive in a global economy.