University News

High school students to get close-up look at cutting-edge science at UCLA

More than 180 Los Angeles high school students will visit UCLA's California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) Friday for a day of workshops and scientific demonstrations designed to introduce them to the burgeoning fields of nanoscience and nanotechnology.
CNSI High School Day, which will be held at the institute's newly opened integrated research facility, is part of the CNSI's ongoing science education and outreach program to communities and schools.
"The CNSI is not only interested in innovative research and advancing new technologies, we are also interested in fostering enthusiasm for advanced science within our local school systems," said Leonard H. Rome, the institute's interim director and senior associate dean for research at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "The next generation of graduate students who will study nanoscience and nanotechnology are in middle and high school today."
The day's program will include tours of the CNSI building and graduate student-led workshops on nanoscale science and energy generation. High school students will participate in real, hands-on nanoscale imaging experiments with the aid of state-of-the-art microscopes and will have the opportunity to view images of the hepatitis C virus, a zebrafish brain in 3-D and the structure of DNA. Students will also have lunch with UCLA undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students and will receive an exclusive tour of the UCLA nanofabrication facility, where nanoscale devices are designed and manufactured.
"CNSI High School Day is an opportunity to stimulate interest in nanotechnology among the young people in our communities," said Sarah Tolbert, director of the CNSI's outreach program. "These programs are designed to excite the natural curiosity in our L.A.-area high school students. This is how we can start to educate the next generation to solve challenging technological problems."
The three high schools participating in the inaugural CNSI High School Day are Camino Nuevo High School (Westlake/MacArthur Park), Reseda High School (San Fernando Valley) and John Marshall High School (Los Feliz, Atwater Village, East Hollywood, northeast Koreatown, Elysian Valley and Silver Lake). A small group of students from the College of the Canyons in the Santa Clarita area will also be participating.
"The response to the pilot CNSI High School Day was overwhelming," said Tolbert, who received requests to participate from nine teachers with a total of 450 students. "But we felt that for a pilot program, we could not take more than three schools, 180 students. We plan to host similar events throughout the year to give students from other Los Angeles-area high schools the opportunity to learn more about nanotechnology."
Since its inception, the CNSI has counted community outreach as a fundamental part of its mission. With an eye toward enriching science education in Los Angeles schools, the institute has developed an outreach program to bring nanoscience and nanotechnology to high school students through hands-on experiments. In addition to direct outreach with students, the CNSI works with local high school teachers, instructing them in how to conduct experiments with their students; educating them on the scientific background needed to understand and explain the experiments to students; and showing how the experiments fit within the California state science standards. The outreach program provides all necessary supplies so that teachers can perform the experiments in their classrooms.
The California NanoSystems Institute was established in 2000 as a joint enterprise between UCLA and UC Santa Barbara, with $100 million from the state of California and an additional $250 million in federal research grants and industry funding. The CNSI is a multidisciplinary research institute whose mission is to encourage university collaboration with industry and enable the rapid commercialization of discoveries in nanosystems. CNSI members at UCLA include some of the world's preeminent scientists working in five targeted areas of nanosystems-related research: renewable energy; environmental nanotechnology and nanotoxicology; nanobiotechnology and biomaterials; nanomechanical and nanofluidic systems; and nanoelectronics, photonics and architectonics. For additional information, visit
UCLA is California's largest university, with an enrollment of nearly 37,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university's 11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer more than 300 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Four alumni and five faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize.
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