High School Students Win Big and Gain Real World Experience through ASU Research Program

ASU’s Southwest Center for Education and the Natural Environment Expands with New Partnership
Jun 24, 2011 8:00 PM ET

(3BL Media / theCSRfeed) TEMPE, AZ -- Since 1998, nearly 200 high school students from across the Phoenix metro area have done cutting-edge scientific research in labs at Arizona State University (ASU). This opportunity for advanced study has been made possible by the Southwest Center for Education and the Natural Environment (SCENE), a nonprofit organization that partners with the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability to offer a program called Research Experiences for High School Students. SCENE is headed by Executive Administrator, Kathryn Kyle.

Now, to strengthen and expand the program, SCENE and the Global Institute of Sustainability are forming a new partnership with the LeRoy Eyring Center for Solid State Science in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The new partnership will make more faculty and graduate researchers available to mentor high school students in a range of disciplines, including physics, chemistry, geology, material science, electrical engineering, and biomedical engineering. It will also allow students to work at the LeRoy Eyring Center’s unparalleled research facility, one of only a few in the world to offer an extensive range of sophisticated tools for material synthesis and characterization to users both in and outside of academia.

SCENE’s research program has already proven to be a remarkable success: it puts students in grades 10 through 12 at the frontlines of discovery, where they grapple with questions as yet unanswered while being mentored by top ASU scientists. The students learn what it takes to be a professional scientist, and they prepare to compete and win in state, national, and international science competitions.

Since 2000, SCENE students have won the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair’s Grand Prize every year except one, while also advancing to compete and win prizes at the International Science and Engineering Fair, the largest pre-college scientific research event in the world. In addition, SCENE students have won a prestigious Ricoh Sustainable Development Award every year since it was first offered.

This year, SCENE student Jean Juang, a junior at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, Ariz., set a record in the program, winning 10 awards at the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair, including the Grand Prize. Juang prepared for the competition through her work at ASU in Prof. Nate Newman’s research lab and the LeRoy Eyring Center for Solid State Science. Newman, a professor in solid state science in ASU’s School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, has mentored nearly a dozen SCENE students over the last four years.

Juang investigated the advantage of using cryogenic temperatures to operate magnetic tunnel structures. These devices, used in non-volatile memory systems like computers and automobiles, were produced at Everspin Technologies, Inc. through a collaboration with Everspin Scientist, Dr. Nick Rizzo. Everspin Technologies, Inc., locally based in Chandler, Ariz., has roots in Freescale Semiconductor; its Magnetoresistive  Random Access Memory (MRAM) is broadly used in data storage, industrial automation, gaming, energy management, communications, transportation, and avionics.

The SCENE program has won high praise from students; some direct comments from them include:

“I learned more from being in this program, and had more fun, than I ever did at high school. This program helped prepare me for life in the real world.”

“I can’t stress enough how vital and instrumental this will be to my success in college and the rest of my life.”

“For the first time, I was able to satisfy my curiosity, seek answers, and learn about science beyond the traditional classroom setting. This program was as rich and exciting as it was challenging.”

The Southwest Center for Education and the Natural Environment (SCENE) was founded to promote learning about the environment through scientific discovery. SCENE links science expertise and resources at Arizona State University with pre-college students. The organization is a partnership between the ASU Global Institute of Sustainability and members of the private sector. http://scene.asu.edu/

The LeRoy Eyring Center for Solid State Science provides a productive environment for interdisciplinary materials research. Anchored in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the center, makes its advanced facilities available to the entire ASU research community and researchers from government and industry. http://le-csss.asu.edu/

The Global Institute of Sustainability is the hub of ASU’s sustainability initiatives. The Institute advances research, education, and business practices for an urbanizing world. Its School of Sustainability, the first of its kind in the U.S., offers transdisciplinary degree programs to create practical solutions for environmental, economic, and social challenges. http://sustainability.asu.edu/