STEMx: Off to a great start!

We had a very exciting first couple of months as our fledgling ACE Org takes flight! Though, I don’t think I can call the club a little fledgling any longer, evidenced by 4 eventful EOP sessions and one more to come.

Here’s a run-down of all the exciting events that we’ve enjoyed so far this semester. Stay tuned for more opportunities to engage with STEMx this school year!

Computer Science/EntrepreneurshipIMG_0642

Members of the Computer Science/Entrepreneurship branch of the club enjoyed cultivating their entrepreneurial spirit through a lively brainstorm session on the whiteboards in earlier this semester. The girls discussed apps that need building and went wild on the whiteboards! After brainstorming, we discussed ideas ranging from surround-sound speaker systems to Google Glass to social media to emergency apps and got some creative juices flowing!

Our next session we headed over to Girls To Women, an after-school program empowering young girls in East Palo Alto — we had a blast teaching the girls basic logic/programming skills using the smart tablet app LightBot. I was IMG_0635blown away by the prowess of several 1st/2nd graders who sped through the beginning tutorials and were well on their way toward building programs with procedures and loops; and at the end of our session we had to resort to practically pulling the HP Slates out of the clenched hands of the young programmers heartbroken that our 45 minute session had come to a close. We look forward to future collaborations with the program next semester!

Since then, we’ve been exploring app development by trying our hand at tutorials for Swift, Apple’s new programming language for iOS developers. One of our goals this year is to gain experience with the process of taking an application from idea to design to implementation. So far, the combination of entrepreneurship, computer science, and outreach/mentorship of young women has given us much to learn from and much more to look forward in the months to come!



Girls in the YouthMed division (and the larger Casti community) were able to attend a lecture by Dr. Amit Etkin from the Stanford Neurosciences Institute, who discussed his cutting-edge research in a new form of depression treatment called Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (which some students likened to an experience straight out of a sci-fi movie). Students enjoyed hearing Dr. Etkin’s engaging explanation of the scientific basis of this exciting new technology as well as the endless potential for future applications in the medical world.

The next week, members enjoyed getting their hands wet (with gloves, of course) with an accompanying sheep brain dissection. The experience was living proof of the value of IMG_0824hands-on learning, as we wondered at the beauty

of the tree-like grooves of the cerebellum and sliced apart the hemispheres to admire the structures of the limbic system nested in the brain’s center. YouthMed looks forward to more hands-on learning and expert speakers this school year to inspire students to engage in medicine.






IMG_0857A fact of life: science is fun — and the exciting (and often tasty) events hosted by the Science division of STEMx regularly prove it. Casti scientists extracted DNA from strawberries during their first session, and they enjoyed a field trip to a Stanford biotechnology lab to speak with research fellows about what it means to pursue a career in science. Students gained valuable insight into the increasing importance of bioinformatics as a scientific field, learned a little bit about cellular research involving fluorescent proteins, and enjoyed valuable advice about pursuing science degrees in college.

Last week in yet another feat of tasty proportions, the club enjoyed an ice-cream-making session — and I can attest to the fact that liquid nitrogen plus ice cream ingredients in a bucket not only looks awesome in a three-witches-stirring-cauldron-with-magical-potions kind of way, but also tastes divine. Students also enjoyed freezing various fruits in liquid nitrogen and then hurling them onto the pavement (if you’ve never associated bananas with the word “shatter,” think again). Indulging in some freshly made ice cream + mashing things + liquid nitrogen was the perfect way to de-compress and learn about science on a Wednesday afternoon.





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