Middle school students preview career options during annual science conference at UCI

Some 400 middle school students from IUSD got a chance to preview potential careers in physics, robotics, aerospace, health, research and other specialized fields during a science conference at UCI this week.

Presentation titles for the 22nd annual Middle School STEM Career Options Conference, held Dec. 17 at the university’s Social Science Complex, included “Cancer Cell Biology – The Hallmarks of Cancer,” “Career Opportunities in Veterinary Medicine,” “Forensic Science: The ‘Real’ CSI” and “Crowning Touch! Careers in Dentistry.”

Based on their interests, students were able to select from a menu of more than 22 subjects during four breakout sessions, which were led by real scientists from UCI, the Orange County Crime Lab, the Irvine Ranch Water District, Boeing Co. and other reputable organizations, as well as local doctors including optometrist Dr. Art Corish, dentist Dr. Roberta Dornan and dermatologist Dr. Patrick Lee.

Microsoft gave a special presentation that invited students to “Imagine Where STEM Can Take You” with a look at off some of its latest devices. Google was also on hand to talk to future software engineers, and a special Q&A panel featured UCI medical students who previously attended schools in IUSD.

The Middle School STEM Career Options Conference was established years ago to increase student awareness and interest in science-related careers, and to encourage kids to enroll in science courses. Originally funded by the National Science Foundation, the program has more recently endured thanks to the support of the Irvine Public Schools Foundation through grants from local corporations. This year’s conference was sponsored by a Google community grant.