Students are constantly reminded of the entrepreneurship opportunities that the University has to offer. There are advertisements all over campus reminding students they can “create solutions” and “collaborate” and “innovate.”
ASU alumna Kathryn Scheckel decided to follow that advice by creating Quanta in the fall of 2011.
It was initially a small program, funded by an Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative grant, that intended to provide mentors and research connections to high school students in Arizona working on high-impact research projects.
“It was a really beta version of what we’re doing now,” Scheckel said.
Today, Quanta is part of ASU’s Office of Knowledge Enterprise Development and Scheckel is the full-time assistant director of special projects, where she works on Quanta among many other projects.
“(We) introduce students to the research happening at ASU by allowing them to get them involved with real-world research projects,” she said.
Quanta has grown significantly in the two years since its inception. It has partnered with three Arizona high schools and is working with 275 students on a variety of ambitious research projects.
The program launched last month and students will have until Dec. 6 to finish their research.
Scheckel said she is still learning so much as the program moves through its first semester.
“The teachers are integrating these research experiences, which are real world so to speak, into their curriculum, which is something we didn’t expect to happen,” she said.
The high school students who were accepted into the program work directly with ASU faculty and undergraduate mentors, collaborating through an online portal.
Zachary Heth, a senior double majoring in molecular biosciences and biotechnology and political science, has been an administrator for Quanta since last summer.
He works with mentors and mentees, helping them with problems they encounter in the research process, and also mentors high school students working on a science fiction project.
Heth said in an email how much he enjoys working with Quanta and its dedication to changing the way education works.
“The program itself is also really unique and will change the way people think not only about research but potentially science education,” he said.
Scheckel said she knows her goals are lofty, but she hopes to see the program expand nationally within the next five years and wants to double the amount of projects Quanta is working on in the mean time.
“Our ultimate goal is to be working in research fields spanning across the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) subjects,” she said.
There are seven total projects this semester. They cover a variety of disciplines from one called “What is Consciousness?” to working on an eCYBERMISSION, an Army educational outreach program.
Digital culture freshman Erin Beck is Quanta’s only freshman tutor. She gives students feedback and keeps them on track and helps them when they are having difficulty.
“I’m making a difference to these students, somewhere along the line,” Beck said in an email.
Once the phases of the research projects are completed, researchers and students will be able to view the projects online in the Quanta project gallery.
Scheckel said the research the students do will have real-world use for faculty working on research. She called it a Pinterest for students looking for research.
Scheckel is adamant about what ASU has to offer to students.
“There is a supporting infrastructure at the University to really help students be successful,” she said. “With good ideas and hardworking students, that combination is pretty powerful.”
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