SHPE’s Noche inspires young students

The CSM Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE) hosted the Noche de Ciencias event Saturday evening on October 27. Noche de Ciencias, or Night of Science, is an outreach event put on by SHPE chapters across the U.S. and caters to families of Hispanic background with children in elementary or middle school. The event seeks to reach families who might not be considering sending their kids to a prestigious college, especially a science and engineering school as Colorado School of Mines.

Brandon Rodriguez, the outreach chair for CSM SHPE said, “This is about getting more students interested in science and engineering and specifically targeting students that might not otherwise consider it a viable option. So we’re hoping to relate on a personal level that, ‘Hey, we made it to college and you can too!'”

The event grouped the families into three separate stations – an information session for the parents in English, Spanish, and an experiments section for the students. The information sessions included presentations on the different types of colleges such as private versus public, different majors or interests students could go into, the college application process, and the benefits of a college degree. The focus was on going into engineering and science and the specific route students should take in order to get into Mines one day.

Another presentation highlighted the financial investment that college has to offer including how to pay for that investment. Placement rates of CSM graduates, along with their starting median salary were emphasized. Parents were encouraged to consider a university like Mines for their children’s future and seek resources such as federal and state aid, scholarships, and even student loans since the time to repay student loans for engineers is much lower than that of other majors.

In the experiment stations, the students first made straw paper rockets in order to hit a target. They were encouraged to think about what goes into design, and also what would make it fly better. In another session, students were given bags of rocks, minerals, shells, bones, metals, and other artifacts. They were given a small lesson in geology and investigated the grains and artifacts to figure out what kind of civilization was on earth at the time.

When asked what his favorite part was, 4th grader Jack Vogt responded, “I don’t know… everything. Well I liked finding rocks and all this stuff. Well, the rocks and [lunch] – that was my favorite part.”

At the end of the night, SHPE hoped that the event inspired the students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Ezekiel, age 12, who definitely has many dreams for the future said, “When I grow up… [I want to be an] engineer. Or those people who dig for bones – a paleontologist. Paleontologist engineer. I want to build an Iron Man suit. I want to be everything.”

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