Above, Project Magnify founders Hansab Kim, left and Stephen Ren are trying to expand access to STEM-focused educational opportunities.

By Adrian Frias
Summer Scholar Intern
Office of Communications and Media Relations

Project Magnify co-founder Hansub Kim installs critical components on a 3D printer in preparation to expand STEM learning to more schools and students.

Feeling fortunate to have access to high quality STEM-focused opportunities, North Hollywood High students are working to enable other schools – regardless of zip code – to have access to the same tech-rich resources they enjoy.

Last year, juniors Hansub Kim and and Stephen Ren co-founded Project Magnify, an offshoot of the school’s Science Research Club, aimed at providing students across L.A. Unified with opportunities to excel in science, technology, engineering and math.

“Lots of students nowadays are interested in STEM, specifically technology and computers,” Kim said. “We’ve found a way to provide resources to cultivate interest and encourage participation in STEM learning.”

Project Magnify seeks to take socioeconomic status out of the equation in accessing science and engineering programs, enabling all students to benefit from STEM resources and opportunities.

The concept for Project Magnify began when North Hollywood’s Science Research Club lacked the money to continue doing research at a local science and engineering lab. Kim and Ren realized the difficulty of obtaining resources for STEM research and creative exploration, especially for students in impoverished communities.

With help from psychology teacher Catherine Underwood and science teacher Elise Espinosa, they began Project Magnify. Educator and electrical engineer Douglas Foster helped launch the effort with a donation of a 3D printer for the club to use to replicate tools in a high-tech but cost-effective way. The new tools enabled students to make research materials such as microscopes and tools for use in classroom laboratories.

Last spring, the club had its very first event at Cornerstone Elementary in Palos Verdes, where they gave a presentation on 3D printing and a demonstration on how to make gadgets with the technology.

“Events like this help expand our outreach and foster connections among schools in the district,” said junior Eugene Woo, a member of the Project Magnify’s board of directors. “As a growing initiative, we’re developing partnerships that help student learn more about STEM. In the coming months, we hope to expand and present to more kids who really need the resources and want to learn more about math and science.”

Now in their senior year, Kim and Ren are connecting with additional schools to offer their presentations and demonstrations. Students are leveraging student involvement in other STEM-focused educational programs, including CyberPatriots and Project Lead the Way, to expand coverage of the school district.

The students of Project Magnify say their ultimate goal is to establish chapters on school campuses throughout L.A. Unified and neighboring school districts.

Adrian Frias is a senior at L.A. Unified’s Rancho Dominguez Preparatory School in Long Beach.