CalTech Tours Inspire Disadvantaged High School Students

Achievement date: 

A semester-long program for students at John Muir High School in Pasadena, Calif., brought socioeconomically disadvantaged students to a number of research labs at the California Institute of Technology. The opportunities arose as part of education-outreach programs at the Center for Integrated Access Networks (CIAN), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center (ERC) with headquarters at the University of Arizona and Caltech as a partner institution.


Participants in the education program showed significant change in their perspectives on STEM Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD degrees as well as their understanding of nanofabrication. Students who participated showed a 51% increase in interest in STEM Bachelor’s degrees; 58% had an increase of interest in Master’s and PhD degrees; and a vast majority showed a better understanding of nanofabrication.


Students taking the Digital Electronics class at John Muir received tours of the LED, Microfluidics, and Optics Lab, as well as the Kavli Nanoscience Institute. The students also were introduced to scanning electron microscope (SEM) imaging and the use of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) devices for infectious disease diagnosis.


The program was conducted by previous CIAN Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) teacher and now CIAN graduate student Keith Russell. The program reached into John Muir, where about 80% of the student body is socioeconomically disadvantaged and more than 90% of the students are Hispanic or African American.