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Young Students Exposed to STEM at Santa Monica College Festival


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By Lookout Staff

April 25, 2018 -- Some 80 families attended Santa Monica College's free STEM Festival on Saturday giving their middle and elementary school children a fun, hands-on look at the growing technical fields, college officials said.

The school's STEM faculty and students welcomed the participants and shared their knowledge in science, technology, engineering and math during a series of live demos, workshops and experiments.

The most popular activities, based on the students' experiment log cards, were making slime and playing with Oobleck, said the festival’s organizer, SMC Associate Professor of Chemistry Jennifer Hsieh.

SMC STEM Fest Megabubbles
(Students make megabubbles (Photos by Randy Bellous courtesy of SMC)

Based on the Dr. Seuss book "Bartholomew and the Oobleck," the non-Newtonian fluid made of cornstarch behaves like a solid when punched, "but when poured, flows like a liquid," Hsieh said.

Students also enjoyed "extracting DNA from strawberries and launching emojis using a gigantic slingshot,” she said.

“It seems that every one who attended had a lot of fun—including all of our SMC volunteers,” Hsieh said.

SMC STEM Fest students with display for Puerto Rico Relief
Students with display for Puerto Rico relief efforts

Participants also enjoyed a coding workshop and an “Integral Bee” that pitted SMC students and professors in a battle to solve calculus and integrals on the whiteboard.

They also took in a hydrogen fuel cell demo by an SMC Chemistry professor who exhibited and discussed a fully functional cell built by SMC students.

SMC is home to a growing STEM program initially funded by a five-year $5.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2011.


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