High School Outreach

BMSIS Young Scientist Shiyin Jim led an outreach event at Crescenta Valley High School in La Crescenta, California.

Shiyin’s engagement was part of her Communications requirements for the BMSIS Young Scientist Program. BMSIS is continuously committed to engaging the public in the wonders of Space Exploration and the Earth System. Our Young Scientist Program continues this tradition by engaging local communities around the world.

Read Shiyin’s impressions below:

For my community outreach presentation, I presented to students at my local high school, Crescenta Valley High School. When I was at CVHS, I took AP Biology with Ms. Orenda Tuason and it was one of the most challenging classes I took during my four years. Though difficult, Ms. Tuason went above and beyond to expose us to synthetic biology, genetic engineering, and bioengineering. When deciding where to do my community outreach presentation, I chose Ms. Tuason’s AP Bio classes because I knew those students would be interested in the subject matter, and were also at a point in their lives where exposure to different topics would have a real influence in what they decided to do.

In creating the presentation, I faced a few challenges. The biggest challenge I faced was making the presentation engaging. I knew that I would be presenting to students that were unlikely to be enthusiastic about hearing from me.

I approached this problem by thinking back to three years ago, when I was in their position. Back then, a guest speaker meant a break from taking notes and a good 15 minutes where I could zone out and not worry about falling behind. Keeping this in mind, I tried to make my presentation as engaging as possible; I tried to be relatable, and kept checking in to make sure I hadn’t lost all of them. My strategy for the presentation was to tell them about the research, and then tell them why it made a difference in both space exploration and the medical field. I spent the last five minutes of my presentation talking about me; how I got the job, and how hard I worked to put myself in a position to accept it. I maintained that I’m not much different from any of them, and that much of being successful is hard work.

I ended up giving the presentation to three different groups of students; two were AP Bio classes and the third was my high school’s medical academy. Each was a little bit different, but each class had one or two students that asked a lot of questions or appeared to be more interested than the rest. I think my favorite part of the presentation was being able to tell the students that you really never know where STEM can take you. Being able to show them what a difference three years can make was rewarding, because for students, it’s easy to get lost in what you’re doing and not remember why you’re doing it in the first place.