Insights from RCC's High School STEM Connections Expo

May 24

If the thought of 300 high school students parading outside, between the Math and Science Building and the Digital Library, sounds alarming, what about 800-plus people in the Landis Auditorium?

That’s exactly what happened this past May 9th during the High School STEM Connections Expo. Through strategic cross-campus collaboration between the STEM Division and Student Affairs, this outreach event showcased the resources and support that RCC and the STEM departments can offer. With the support of Dr. Thomas Cruz-Soto, Cathleen Castellanos, Jose Diaz, and Jorge Perez (from Riverside Unified School District), we were able to bus in around 300 plus high school students and chaperones from the following 12 high schools:

Arlington HS     

Educational Options Center

Jurupa Valley HS

J.W. North HS           

Lincoln HS

Martin Luther King HS

Montclair HS   

Patriot HS

Poly HS             

Ramona HS     

Riverside Virtual HS         

Rubidoux HS       

These high school students, who our wonderful volunteers greeted, arrived at 9:00 am and could visit the resource tables until 11:30 am. Some of the resource tables that were present included Physics/Astronomy Department, Chemistry Department, STEM Engagement Center, Plant Club, MESA, RCC Promise Program, EOPS, Rising Scholars/Justice Impacted Program, RCC Library, Career Center, UMOJA, La Casa, to name a few. In total, there were eight STEM department tables, eight academic support tables, 15 student support tables, and eight student club tables.

The high school students were encouraged to visit as many tables as time allowed but only needed eight stamps to enter the raffle giveaway for RCC swag. In addition to the resource table portion, the students were fed from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm by The Habit catering truck before they were directed to Landis Auditorium for the subsequent portion of the event, which the Veteran’s Resource Center sponsored. The High School STEM Connect-ions Expo went out with a bang, culminating with guest speaker NASA Astronaut José M. Hernández, who shared his miraculous journey.

It is safe to say the students, who were almost all Hispanic, left the High School STEM Connect-ions Expo inspired. Out of the 300 students, 110 answered our survey (36% response rate):

  • 85 % of students said they are considering attending college
  • 78% of students said they are considering attending Riverside City College
  • 75% of students said that they are more likely to consider Riverside City College after this event

The student feedback is reassuring that STEM Connect, funded by grants from the US Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and Edison International, with the support of our campus partners and community, is providing meaningful programming for underrepresented STEM students.