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OC Science is a student-run, non-profit organization working to inspire and spread interest in science and engineering among youth in Orange County.

By Michelle Xu

OC Science hosted its workshops at Santiago Elementary in collaboration with the Beckman High School OC Science Chapter as part of the Santiago Science Night event on Nov. 18th.

The event featured four different workshops: Battery Basics, a circuitry workshop; Lava Lamps, a chemistry workshop; Sense Perception, a behavioral science workshop; and Bridge Building, an engineering workshop.

Minh-Thi Nguyen, the captain for the Battery Basics workshop, taught students how to make different batteries out of ordinary household supplies, such as soda. The students were able to make their own batteries, and then watch them light up.

“I put salt, copper, and aluminum together to make my battery,” said Ava, an eager participant.

Lava Lamps is an event where students make their very own lava lamps by utilizing the hydrophobic and hydrophilic properties of oil and water. Harry Park, the captain for this workshop, first gave a brief lesson on chemistry for the elementary schoolers. For example, he taught that hydrophobic molecules are those that dislike water, and hydrophilic molecules are those that are attracted to water. He then showed them how to make their own lava lamps with household materials. Harry believes that “the experiment was a creative way to explain a somewhat tough chemistry concept in an engaging way.”

Shreyas Hukkeri, the captain for the Sense Perception workshop, explained the surprising phenomena of why people cannot always trust their eyes. A simple taste-test proved his point. While he explained the lesson, his assistant teachers secretly mixed apple juice with different food colorings. When given to the students, almost no one could identify the mysterious juice as apple juice. For instance, one student who received a purple-colored juice thought it was grape juice.

"The sense perception experiment amused the participants and their parents on how just the simple changing of color could alter their thoughts on a mystery liquid. Overall, it was a great experience and I was happy that the kids had an enjoyable time doing the experiment,” recalls Shreyas.

Jun Yun is the captain for the Bridge Building workshop. The challenge of his workshop was to have the students construct a bridge that could hold the most amount of weights. Not only did this event encourage problem solving, but it also encouraged teamwork. Students got together and began pondering different designs for bridges.

“We want to design the bridge like a table,” said Gilbert as he drew out his design. Adding on to Gilbert’s idea, team member Isaac said, “I was thinking of using a triangle as the base because the weight will be evenly distributed.”

Each student contributed different ideas to the bridges, and the ideas proved to be effective. The winning team was able to hold a whole box of weights before the bridge broke.

Both volunteers and participants were able to gain new knowledge from the event. Beckman OC Science member Wesley Vu says, “It was really neat seeing so many people, both parents and kids, being so engaged in the activities that were prepared.”

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