Student volunteers host STEM Night at Taylor Hicks Elementary

SWE, SHPE, and Tau Beta Pi Pitch In for an Interactive Night of Science Fun

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2020, volunteers from a variety of STEM (and non-STEM) undergraduate programs gathered at the local Taylor Hicks Elementary School in Prescott, Ariz. to host hands-on demonstrations and take-home activities for elementary-age kids.

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) ERAU chapter has participated in this event with Taylor Hicks before. This year, additional volunteers from the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers joined forces with SWE volunteers for a total of 13 student helpers between the two minority organizations. Engineering Honor Society Tau Beta Pi also coordinated with Taylor Hicks to host a table and brought their own five volunteers.

With activities such as holiday light circuits, invisible ink, the non-Newtonian fluid “Oobleck,” and marshmallow towers, the STEM night is an approachable way for younger children to get exposure to the fun and excitement of science. “My favorite part was working with the kids and introducing them to some cool science concepts,” said SWE Outreach Co-Lead Kimiya Ghobadi, who coordinated the event. 

At one table, students connected aluminum foil, D batteries, and stripped string lights into a circuit and experienced the electrical engineering concepts of series and parallel connections. At another, they saw firsthand the chemical properties that make the classic kitchen-staple “invisible ink” possible. Across the room, they made kaleidoscopes out of mirror paper and their own Crayola masterpieces, an easy demonstration of the visual optics at work. These activities and many more provided an early introduction to STEM concepts for kids.

The students got exposure to several disciplines, including structural engineering, electrical engineering, fluid dynamics, chemistry, and more, all at an accessible level. According to Ghobadi, the best and most encouraging part of the event for the students is that the “science didn’t require any fancy materials to be able to carry out experiments.” Many of the activities also had handouts for recreation or further experimentation at home.

Although this is the first event of its kind for the Outreach team, they are looking towards doing more community-focused STEM events and reaching more students in the future. “I would like to increase the number of kids participating in STEM Day, as well as increasing the number of SWE Outreach members because with them we are able to reach out to more schools, and set up more events for the community,” said Ghobadi.

This evening event is a smaller-scale version of SWE Outreach’s flagship event, STEM Day. Attracting over 200 students in recent years, this large-scale, all-day science fair is the highlight of local STEM activities and keeps students coming back for years in a row. This year, STEM Day will occur on Sunday, March 29 in the Activity Center. 

Those who are interested in volunteering with the SWE Outreach team in the future are advised to contact Kimiya Ghobadi [ghobadik@my.erau.edu].

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