UPRI Motivates Students to Pursue a Career in the STEM Field


Last October 11, Cesca Llanes of UPRI talked about her experiences as a geologist to 6th grade students of Miriam College Middle School during their Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM) Week celebration. With the theme, "E= MC2: Empowering the MC Community through STEAM Education", Ms. Llanes discussed the different STEAM skills required in her field and how these skills were developed to prepare her in starting a career as a geologist. She also emphasized how the knowledge and skills she has acquired so far could be used in the service of others.

The talk began by Ms. Llanes asking the students to enumerate the STEAM skills that they think are necessary to pursue a career in the sciences. Analyzing data and visualizing maps, identifying geologic structures, and looking for patterns in rock bodies require creativity and imagination. Fieldwork is done with other geologists, scientists, and experts in other fields to better come up with solutions to scientific problems. Analyzed data must then be presented to the scientific community, the local community, and other affected stakeholders. Good communication skills in multiple mediums are therefore necessary to better explain scientific concepts and solutions to the people.

To enhance these skills, Ms. Llanes explained that it was necessary for the students to hone their reading and listening skills. It also takes a lot of discipline and focus to be an expert in their chosen field. Nevertheless, students must never be afraid to make mistakes, as this is integral for them to learn and fail better. Lastly, it is important to have fun and to enjoy the process of accumulating knowledge and later applying them to be of service to others.

Ms. Llanes has gone on to share what she has learned so far in geology, landslides, and earth science processes to other scientists and engineers. She has presented results of numerical simulations, field work, analysis of landslide events to local and international workshops and conferences. Solutions and mitigation measures have also been shared with the local government and the affected communities. The talk ended by reminding the students that scientists must always share what they know to everyone, especially the grassroots communities and the next batch of students who will carry on the scientific work that must be accomplished.