IGNITE STEM Fair at Burton High School

On April 18, 2024, IGNITE Worldwide hosted its first-ever STEM Fair at Burton High School in San Francisco, CA. The event brought together 97 students from Burton High School with professionals from various companies including Intuit, The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, Women in Data Science, Pixar Animation Studios, Gusto, Wells Fargo, and Planet Labs PBC. The STEM Fair featured interactive demonstrations and hands-on activities, giving students a unique opportunity to engage with experts in the fields of technology, science, and engineering.

The dynamic event aimed to spark students’ interest in STEM fields through direct interaction with STEM professionals and hands-on activities. Volunteers like Lucy Shen, Developer Advocate at Intuit, and Deepanshi Sharma, Software Engineer at Pixar Animation Studios, showcased the practical applications of their work, allowing students to see firsthand what a career in STEM might look like. The event featured multiple stations where students could rotate, try out different demonstrations, and ask questions, creating an engaging atmosphere.

James Coughlan, Natela Shandize, and Adrien Chopin, all Scientists at The Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, captured the students’ attention with a demonstration using the camera and depth sensors of an iPhone 14 Pro, explaining how these sensors could be used in accessibility research for those with blindness and low vision. The advice to students was to consider careers in accessibility research, a field that covers a wide range of disabilities including hearing, cognitive, and mobility impairments. This practical insight into the real-world applications of STEM was invaluable for the students.

The students were enthusiastic, with many questions to ask at every station. Sandy Li, Senior Software Engineer at Gusto, fielded questions about the difficulty of various programming languages and shared her knowledge on the subject. The high level of engagement showed that the students were not only interested but eager to learn more about the intricacies of software engineering and other STEM careers.

Educators highlighted the success of the event, noting the students’ strong interest in understanding how to pursue STEM fields professionally. Overall, the STEM Fair was a resounding success, providing both inspiration and practical knowledge to the students present.

We would like to extend our thanks to all the incredible Volunteers and Educators who made the STEM Fair at Burton High School a success. A special thank you to Lucy Shen, Natela Shanidze, James Coughlan, Adrien Chopin, Simone Flory, Deepanshi Sharma, Sandy Li, Priya Desarazu, and Natasha Nogueira for sharing your expertise and inspiring almost 100 students. Additionally, we are grateful to Educator Audrey Portley-Bernstein for her unwavering support and dedication to your students.

After attending this event:


of students are interested in STEM

Take STEM Class


of students know more about STEM career choices and the benefits of working in a STEM field

Ask Teacher about Additional STEM Activities


of students feel more confident in pursuing STEM


of students gained perspective and feel more hopeful about the future

Here’s what the students thought of the event:

“I learned a lot about different career paths. It motivated me to choose a STEM career. I loved learning about satellites. It was cool listening about how they work.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student

Today’s event brought in a variety of STEM careers that are all uniquely different in their own ways. I am inspired by the interesting events that are covered by the majority of STEM careers. My favorite thing I learned about today would be the satellite pictures and the optical illusions that explain how eyes see.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student

“The people we talked with were really nice and passionate about their work. It showed that they genuinely want to see more females in the STEM field. My favorite thing that I learned today was about space. They talked about how satellites work and how they can impact society.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student

Today has inspired me by showing how people in actual careers do their work. I’ve learned about new careers in different fields. My favorite thing I learned was about the satellite. It was interesting to see how there’s a space telescope that can take high-resolution pictures.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student

“It showed me that everyone can do STEM. There were a lot of women here, and it really helped me understand that companies are looking for women. I loved learning about how different animation uses different sites like Procreate. The group who talked about how your eyes work was also really cool.” – 10th Grade IGNITE Student

Today’s event opened a lot of doors for me in terms of understanding, and I can say I learned a lot today about many different things and the intricate, important pieces that go into big projects. My favorite thing I learned today was about how the brain takes in all the different types of vision and molds it into you seeing everything three-dimensionally.” – 10th Grade IGNITE Student

It inspired me to do something more related to STEM and to pursue a career and a major in STEM. I learned a lot about software engineering and computer science. I also learned a lot about exploring what I like.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student

Today’s event inspired me to aim higher than before. It also inspired me to look at the bigger picture. My favorite thing I learned today was how they send a satellite and how echolocation works.” – 10th Grade IGNITE Student

Today’s event showed me how many opportunities and options there are in the STEM field. While everything in STEM is very different, it is all interesting to learn about. One of my favorite things I learned was the Pixar section because it was interesting to learn how the movies we watch are made. Learning about the software used to create and produce movies was fun.” – 10th Grade IGNITE Student

I liked hearing others talk about the volunteers’ experiences. It made me feel more prepared for what to expect. My favorite thing I learned today was how one station said that they named their satellites after birds. I also liked getting a plushie.” – 11th Grade IGNITE Student

About The IGNITE Program:

IGNITE provides a sustainable, scalable, and effective program that works with educators to reach students where they are: at school, during the school day. By offering in-school programming, we are uniquely positioned as an equitable and accessible opportunity for students; the Program is available cost-free to public school districts, educators, and students.

About IGNITE Worldwide:

IGNITE Worldwide is a 501(c)3 nonprofit STEM education organization that aims to change gender and racial equity in STEM permanently and systematically. We work directly with teachers during the school day to provide programming that promotes gender equity and representation in STEM academics and careers. Through our award-winning program, IGNITE provides engaging, hands-on events that connect students with STEM professionals from industry leaders from around the world. Learn more at www.igniteworldwide.org.

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