It seems like only yesterday that I was in high school participating in the Science and Math Investigative Learning Experience (SMILE) Program. It was ten years ago (!), actually, in which I remember traveling to OSU to participate in the annual challenge weekend. Now in it’s 21st year (they held their 20th anniversary not too long ago) the SMILE Program hosted students from across the state and invited them to participate in various science and math related activities. This year’s theme was “What About Whales” and student teams were able to attend sessions on whale biology, marine acoustics, water pollution and climate change, just to name a few opportunities. (Speaking of whales, have you had the opportunity to see National Geographic’s footage on the first ever infant Blue Whale? It features OSU’s own Bruce Mate from the OSU Marine Mammal Institute.)
SMILE is one of several K-12 outreach initiatives based at OSU, all working on the premise that an interest in science or engineering starts at a young age and should be carefully nurtured. Other programs tap into parents or community members who are working scientists, or get OSU undergraduate and graduate students involved directly in K-12 outreach activities.
I had the privilege of speaking for a few moments to the students during the opening session as well as during lunch. Students came from everywhere in the state including Madras, Nyssa, Ontario, Chiloquin, Woodburn and Forest Grove just to name a few cities. Hats off to the SMILE staff for putting on another excellent program for students.