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Friday, November 13, 2015

Hispanic Students Explore Fiber Optics and the Internet at the 9th Annual Si Se Puede Hacer Ciencias y Matimaticas Program

Dr. Trallero conducting a demonstration
   Dr. Carlos Trallero, Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics at Kansas State University (KSU) traveled to Emporia State University (ESU) on Halloween to work with some of the more than 50 Hispanic middle school students attending ESU’s 9th Annual Si Se Puede Hacer Ciencias y Matimaticas Program. The purpose of the Si Se Puede Hacer Ciencias y Matimaticas Saturday event was to allow students to interact with Hispanic professionals who work in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields. This year’s program featured four hands-on workshops taught in a small group settting. Dr. Betsy Yanik, Professor of Mathematics and Si Se Puede Hacer Ciencias y Matimaticas Director at ESU created the Saturday workshop opportunity to spark STEM interest among participants and address the country’s need for more graduates from underrepresented groups to pursue degrees and careers in STEM fields.
    In Trallero's workshop, he posed the question "How does the internet work?" After a brief discussion, students observed demonstrations illustrating how fiber optics actually work. Trallero commented, "the students enjoyed seeing how light is bended as it transmits through fiber optics, the backbone of the internet." To provide some additional one on one instructional assistance, Trallero invited Kansas native and first generation KSU Physics student Jaime Minjarez to join him.  Following the demonstrations, Trallero and Minjarez fielded questions as students discovered how to build a motor with just copper wire, a battery and a magnet.

Students building motors
   Trallero and Minjarez considered the experience both fun and rewarding, and they plan to participate in the program again next year.

The Kansas EPSCoR office supported the visit of Professor Carlos A. Trallero and student Jaime Minjarez of the Physics Department and the James R. Macdonald Laboratory at Kansas State University through the outreach program of a Kansas-Nebraska EPSCoR Track II grant.