Emily Rickel/Staff Reporter
Over 800 sixth grade students from 21 local middle schools flooded the ICI Center on Oct. 26 to learn more about the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
“The goal of STEM Day is to teach younger students about STEM through interactive, hands-on exhibits,” said Pamela Peer, Director of K-12 Education Outreach. “Some of the exhibits are displays that showcase the expertise of different campus organizations, and some are take-home activities.”
Multiple campus organizations created and presented exhibits for the next generation of STEM professionals, including EcoCAR 3, the Department of Civil Engineering, the Embry-Riddle Future Space Explorers and Developers Society (ERFSEDS), the White Hat Eagles Cybersecurity Club, the Air Traffic Control Organization, the Amateur Astronomy Club, Naval ROTC and Air Force ROTC.
STEM Outreach, a campus organization that regularly organizes STEM activities for visits to local K-12 schools, had an exhibit that was popular among the sixth-grade attendees. The exhibit simulated a gravity well and demonstrated how an object in space with a large mass influences the orbits of objects with smaller masses. The students had a blast throwing marbles into the homemade gravity well and watching them orbit around a larger mass in the middle of the well.
The Department of Human Factors and Behavioral Neurobiology also had a popular exhibit with many interactive gadgets and models. Students were able to try on goggles that simulate red-color blindness, watch water boil in a vacuum chamber, and explore a model of the lungs. The “Kranken-macher,” which can be translated to “sick-maker,” was also quite a hit. A device that can be used to study motion-sickness, the Kranken-macher certainly lived up to its name. Those wearing the virtual-reality headset could feel dizzy within just a couple of minutes of being exposed to the moving vertical stripes presented in the virtual environment.
The Robotics Association hosted an impressive exhibit that brought out the sixth graders’ competitive sides. With each controlling their own RC car, three students raced to push the most tennis balls into their goal on a triangular field. Student representatives from the Robotics Association also closed out the entire event by presenting on the functions and capabilities of robots, as well as by explaining the future of robotics.
For more information about volunteering for future on and off-campus STEM events, join STEM Outreach on Connection or attend one of their general meetings on Thursdays at 6 p.m. in COB 290.