MHS takes a virtual visit to JPL

Student tutors immersed themselves in STEM and future opportunities


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The student tutors of Math Honors Society toured buildings at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, learned about current and past space missions and were exposed to various internships and opportunities in the STEM field – all without leaving Oak Park High School. On Monday, March 27, tutors spent their morning in MHS adviser Robin Midiri’s classroom and were able to log onto a Zoom meet for the tour or watch the hosts on the board.

“We originally planned for an in-person tour, where we’d visit JPL in the morning and then tour the Caltech campus in the afternoon. However, since a lot of students have been absent from school recently and an in-person trip would lead to students missing more school, we went for the virtual option instead,” MHS president Allison Tang said.

MHS is a free tutoring program held in 35-40 minute sessions throughout the week. As Tang describes it, the free support service is “for students, by students” and utilizes one-on-one and small group help with homework and solving math problems. 

“I wasn’t a part of actually setting up the virtual tour, but I remember at the beginning of the year Ms. Midiri was already mentioning how she wanted to create a field trip to JPL,” sophomore tutor Joy Chu said. “As a member of Math Honors Society, I can say that I especially take an interest in STEM fields. Being able to participate in this field trip gave me some more insight on what I might be interested in later on.”

Midiri organized the field trip by contacting JPL and getting permission from the school to hold the tour. The MHS student board helped plan out the date and activities that were held after.

“It was a nice way to unwind as we approached the end of the semester,” Tang said. “Also, the tour was an opportunity for those interested in STEM to get a good idea of the possibilities of interdisciplinary study and its practical applications.”

The experience served as a way to learn more about JPL’s projects and students were able to explore and ask questions. 

“I briefly hear snippets of Mars landings, but I wouldn’t say I actively stay on top of this kind of news,” Chu said. “It was really interesting to hear about the different robots or rovers that are roaming Mars right now, and also hear about a scientist’s perspective on the topic.” 

Tang appreciated the tour in its entirety but found the lab’s clean rooms the most fascinating. With the in-depth exposure the JPL tour provided, students were able to learn more about the intricacies of aerospace engineering and how delicate the process of making and transporting machinery is. 

“My number one takeaway from this experience would be that to succeed in any discipline, you always need perseverance, which, funnily enough, is the name of one of JPL’s Mars rovers,” Tang said. “I also learned about some awesome internship opportunities for undergraduate students, which I will definitely be looking into in the future.”