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UC Merced Faculty and Students Support Merced City School District’s STEAM Center

Serving the local community is a key mission of the University of California, Merced. The School of Natural Sciences’ faculty and students are certainly committed to doing their part. 

The Merced City School District recently opened the doors to the STEAM Center, a cutting-edge facility where TK-8th grade students from throughout the district have an opportunity to experience 21st century, hands-on learning in the subjects of science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics.  The goal is to have a positive impact on student learning for generations to come. By the end of the academic year, nearly 11,500 elementary and middle school students will have visited the facility for a variety of enriching programming. 

Faculty and graduate students from the School of Natural Sciences and School of Engineering have provided engaging learning opportunities for these students.  Professor Mayya Tokman (Applied Mathematics) and Associate Professor Erik Menke (Chemistry and Chemical Biology) were joined by the School of Natural Sciences’ Chelsea Arnold, Portia Mira, Dr. David Gravano, Jourjina Alkhouri and Betsabel Chicana Romero during the STEAM Center’s Ask a Scientist Night. Our faculty and students hosted tables of elementary school students, discussing hypotheses, variables, procedures and conclusions for a district-wide science fair.

Associate Professor Asmeret Berhe (Life and Environmental Sciences) and Dr. Menke were joined by graduate students and faculty from the School of Engineering to present the topic of Thermal Energy to sixth-grade classes. SNS Lecturer Laura Beaster-Jones (Molecular Cell Biology) discussed Wave Energy with fourth graders.  Assistant Professor Anna Beaudin (Molecular Cell Biology) and Associate Professor Nestor Oviedo (Molecular Cell Biology) discussed Matter with local fifth graders.

“We have been extremely pleased with the support we have received from UC Merced.” – Adrienne Nau, Coordinator, STEAM Center

While the STEAM Center officially opened in August 2017, they held a Grand Opening and Dedication Event on October 25, 2017.  Student representatives from every MCSD school attended the dedication ceremony and helped to fill a time capsule with items that they and their classmates selected through an online survey. Those items included an iPod, a Chromebook, a fidget spinner, and current maps of our city and country. The time capsule is set to be opened in 2027.

For more information about volunteering at the STEAM Center, please contact Chelsea Arnold, Program Director, SMI/CalTeach via email at carnold4@ucmerced.edu.