Mentoring Café gives middle-schoolers a taste of science

October 2, 2017

Scott Crooker from the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s National High Magnetic Field Laboratory demonstrates magnetic principles to students from Santa Fe Indian School at the recent STEM Mentoring Café at Bradbury Science Museum in Los Alamos, N.M. In this U.S. Department of Energy initiative, middle-schoolers try hands-on demonstrations, learn about how the scientists got their start, and find out what they are currently working on.

More than 100 eighth-grade students from Santa Fe Indian School received mentoring from 11 Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists at the Laboratory's first STEM Mentoring Café September 28 at the Bradbury Science Museum.

“You are the future of the Laboratory, and we need you,” said David Lyons, Los Alamos National Laboratory executive director, as he addressed the students at the event. “We hope that after today you will consider a career in science and engineering, and bring your great minds to Los Alamos.”

The middle-schoolers moved from mentor to mentor trying hands-on demonstrations, learning about how the scientists got their start, and finding out what they are currently working on.

After the mentoring, Kelly Mitchell, special advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), led the students in sharing what they'd learned about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) during the day.

As part of the program, Laboratory scientists and engineers received STEM role model training from Melinda Higgins, Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the DOE.

“It is exciting to connect underrepresented communities with STEM professionals to communicate what they do. There is a real need to reach out to diverse populations to connect, inform, and educate for the future of STEM, which is critically important to the DOE,” said Higgins.

The STEM Mentoring Café is a national program from the DOE aimed at inspiring historically underrepresented and underserved populations in STEM fields to consider STEM disciplines by engaging students in interactive demonstrations and show-and-tell chats with role models about their careers.