Featured Community Game Changer


Featured Community Game ChangerJue MSU

MSU Denver Associate Professor Hsiu-Ping Liu works with a student enrolled in the 2014 Summer Science Institute. Photo by Sarah Beets

Love of science STEMs from dedicated teachers like Hsiu-Ping Liu

If Metropolitan State University of Denver Associate Professor of Biology Hsiu-Ping Liu has a mantra, it just might be “Science doesn’t have to be boring. Science doesn’t have to be hard.”

Liu has been letting her students at MSU Denver in on this secret since she joined the faculty seven years ago. She has taken that message to a whole new level as director of the MSU Denver Center for Advanced STEM Education, which was developed to improve educational opportunities for middle school, high school and college students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects.

“Students have a better chance of being interested in and retaining information if they participate in an activity rather than having a teacher talk at them,” says Liu.

One of the center’s main programs is the Summer Science Institute, which engages local middle school students in fun applications of STEM subjects. Participants do everything from studying the physics of roller coasters at Elitch Gardens to analyzing the microbiology of water samples from Cherry Creek.

“By showing kids real-world applications for STEM-related fields, we show them how many possibilities they have for the future,” Liu says.

Last summer, the Summer Science Institute attracted more than 130 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders, 71 percent of whom received financial assistance to attend; nearly 70 percent of participants were minority students. These scholarships are supported by donations from foundations such as Madigan, Peierls, Virginia Hill and Xcel, Liu says.

Geared toward minority youth, the center’s Summer Science Scholars program gives high school students a chance to prepare for college and explore biology and mathematics concepts in depth through faculty-led research projects.

Liu also teaches college-level biology courses and carves out time to study snails in Oregon and Washington for her research as a molecular evolutionary biologist. She has published more than 25 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals since starting at the University, many of them coauthored with MSU Denver undergraduate students.

“I believe it’s very important to expose middle and high school students to STEM fields and get them excited and to maintain that excitement,” says Liu. “I love science. I love to share that excitement of science with students.”

Now in its 17th year, the Summer Science Institute is still enrolling students for the following sessions: June 15–26 (morning and afternoon sessions), July 6–17 (morning session), and July 20–31 (morning and afternoon sessions). Visit msudenver.edu/summerscience for more information and to enroll.

Content Provided By Metropolitan State University of Denver

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