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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.

Events & Updates

Make Your Own Slime Lab Summer Discovery Workshop

By Tara Nguyen

OC Science held their third Science Discovery Workshop of the summer on Saturday, July 30 at Ardent Academy Northwood.

There, students in grades four through six were introduced to the properties of slime and the scientific method by making their own hypotheses and carrying out an experiment based on the scientific method.

“They should remember the experience of trying the scientific method,” teacher Sruthi Alle said. “The experience can help students with their science fair.”

When students started arriving, they were given some slime to play with so that they could observe the properties of the slime. Soon after everyone had arrived, the volunteers started to hand out gloves so that the slime didn’t get everywhere.

The lesson started off with a laughter-filled question and answer session about what the students had noticed about the slime, prompting eager responses. Some answers included that the slime was bouncy, stretchy, gooey and awesome.

After the laughter had died down, the teacher introduced how slime was a polymer made from monomers. They discussed what the viscosity of a liquid was, using examples such as honey, water and slime to define that the viscosity of a liquid was how thick a liquid was. They also made hypotheses about their slime before getting to make the slime.

Once the students started to make their slime, volunteers were running around, trying to deliver borax to all the students. The students were laughing and having fun with their slime while at the same time making observations about the slime in order to test their hypotheses.

“It’s fun,” sixth grader Annie Lee said, “You get to test out what proportion of borax and water works best.”

After playing a while with their slime, the students completed the scientific method, following questions from a packet they were given. When students showed their completed packets to the teacher and volunteers, they got a plastic bag to put their slime in, wrapping up the lesson.

“It was fun watching the kids learn about slime and watching them have fun with slime,” volunteer Angela Xiang said. “It was science but hands-on.”

First Summer Fun Science Night

By Tu Trinh

OC Science's first summer fun science night was a huge success! Many students and their friends and families came to enjoy the various activities offered, including board games and several rounds of Jeopardy.

On the night of July 16, 2016, over 50 participants--volunteers and students alike--came to the Ardent Northwood facility to enjoy a night of fun and games. There were five stations in total: index card towers, card games, Compounded, Operation, and paper chromatography. All of the kids jumped from station to station, eager to try out everything offered that night. Even some of the volunteers helping at each station found themselves eagerly playing along.

Many of the board game stations had volunteers quickly learning how to play, and then patiently explaining the process to each student who came. They were so popular that sometimes there were lines of students waiting for their turn. Everyone was extremely competitive, as shown by a young fifth-grader named Ethan. "Yes! I won! I'm going to play this game all night," he cried as he won yet another round of Compounded.

Elaine Chao, Director of General Public Outreach, was head of the creative, hands-on stations, index card towers and paper chromatography. At least twenty students were at her tables at any given moment, eagerly learning about the fun basics of chemistry and physics, then applying that knowledge to their creations. Many of the kids were so proud of what they made that they happily brought their creations home to show their family.

A special station, Jeopardy, was hosted by Neah Lekan, Vice President of Digital Marketing and Special Tasks Coordinator. He wholeheartedly guided the participants through round after round of fun science trivia questions. As expected, most of them always came back for more of the competitive fun.

No doubt many friends were made that night as the participants competed against each other to win each game, or worked together to achieve a common goal. 

 

OCSEF Excellence in STEM Awards Ceremony

By Michelle Xu

 

The Orange County Science and Engineering Fair hosted its annual Excellence in STEM Awards and Reception at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center on June 5. The event serves to recognize the students and judges who have participated in the OC Science and Engineering Fair, as well as the students who participated in the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Art Contest.

 

The event started out with a welcome from OCSEF Co-President Prasanthi Sathyaprakash. She introduced the keynote speaker Dr. Katherine Mackey, who talked about her journey through STEM. Mackey described her journey as more of a “windy road” as opposed to a “straight path”. Nevertheless, she finally found her true passion in ocean research.

 

Sathyaprakash then welcomed eight OCSEF student participants up to the stage one by one to give presentations about their research projects. The students were sixth graders Ethan Nguyen and Emily Hsi, seventh grader Sabreen Alam, freshman Shreyas Hukkeri, sophomores Michelle Xu and juniors Emily Condon, Lauren Fieldman and Charles Noyes. Michelle Xu and Charles Noyes were participants and winners of the 2016 Intel International Science Fair hosted back in May in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition to talking about their projects, the students also talked about the obstacles they faced and gave advice to future young science researchers.

 

“I thought the student presenters were very good,” OCSEF board member Dr. Arnold Shugarman said. “The presentations highlighted what the students did. I especially liked the advice and suggestions they gave out. It’s much better for students to hear advice from other students than from adults because the students are all in the same boat, so it’s much more believable.”

 

After the students gave their presentations, the OCSEF board members gave out awards to some of the OCSEF judges that have contributed greatly to the success of the science fair. “Our judges did lots of good work,” Sathyaprakash said. “They are the people who select the right winners--they are the pillars of strength that support the fair.”

 

OC Science board members and sophomores Sherry Xu and Lucy Liu were then brought down to the stage to announce the winners of the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Art Contest. The theme of the art contest is on Arnold Beckman’s life and his accomplishments, and students submit original artwork that is based on the theme. The art contest took a lot of effort to prepare for. Partnered with OC Arts, “we made the website and created the theme, and then we publicized this event by emailing a lot of people about this opportunity,” shares Lucy.

 

“My inspiration behind my art was the work that Arnold Beckman did,” second place winner in the Senior Photography Category and freshman Jenna Schindele said. “There were a lot of measurements involved, and I really liked the spirograph pattern.”

Jenna hung a flashlight from a ceiling, which created an elliptical pattern, and captured this in her masterpiece.

 

After the ceremony was over, students and parents crowded outside for the reception to meet the OCSEF judges, student researchers and art contest finalists. “I learned different ways to come up with scientific ideas,” said student participant Tu Trinh. “Listening to the student presentations was my favorite part.”

Ocean Acidification Summer Discovery Workshop

By Alex Xu

As part of OC Science’s summer science events, the organization hosted their first ever Science Discovery Workshop on Ocean Acidification on Saturday, July 16.

There, students from fourth through sixth grade learned about important concepts such as pH and molecular structure, and they performed a sample experiment that taught principles of the scientific method.

The event kicked off with the students learning about the processes involved in the scientific method and their significance.

“It’s important that they understand why people use the scientific method,” teacher Alex Xu said. “It helps them conduct better experiments, and light their pool on fire with more regularity and consistency, which are two good reasons why the scientific method is important.”

The students then learned about ocean acidification, the process by which the ocean becomes gradually more acidic over time as a result of pollution and global warming. They also learned about the consequences of global warming, from the impact on animal life to the impact on human lifestyle and diet.

“I never knew that the acidification of the ocean was harming animals,” sixth grader Tanvi Boga said.

Afterwards, the students got to participate in a hands-on experiment demonstrating how carbon dioxide could cause acidification. They used straws to blow carbon dioxide into a cup of water mixed with an indicator solution, which, predictably, caused giggling fits and laughs as the students and volunteers sloshed around water as they attempted to turn their liquid yellow.

“My favorite part about the event was [seeing] the fierce competition among the kids as they struggled to be the first one to turn their water [yellow],” volunteer Tu Trinh said.

The event was very successful, and the combination of small class size and hands-on activities proved to be a successful formula.

“It took a lot of work to coordinate with the teachers and to make sure everyone was prepared for the workshop,” event coordinator Michelle Xu said. “It was all worth it in the end.”

OC Science Participates in Math For Service Open House 2016

By Tu Trinh

On May 15, 2016, OC Science took part in the annual Math For Service (MFS) Open House at Sage Hill High School. This event is hosted every year to promote all seven MFS organizations: OC Science, OC Math Circle, OC Scholar, OC Arts, OC Engineering, OC Coder, and the newest, OC Hacker. Participants got a chance to explore the different stations set up by each organization, experience some of the fun activities Math For Service members get to enjoy, and sign up for the ones that they were interested in.

This year’s open house featured a special keynote speaker, Dr. James Li, the copresident of Orange County Science and Engineering Fair. His speech, entitled “Turning the Tide With Commitment to Service,” detailed the importance of community service and related it to strengths in college applications.

A presentation by Michael Wu, newly elected OC Math Circle president, also gave a welcoming speech to all the guests. He introduced all the different organizations in Math For Service and gave his own perspective on community service in the STEM field.

A special community service panel, consisting of several professors from prestigious universities, held a Q&A session with all volunteers and participants at the Math For Service Open House. Ms. Debbie Kwon, Mr. Eric Loke, and Dr. Richard Rhee helped answer any and all questions members had about community service, while Dr. Michelle Muratori, Ph.D. mediated the discussion.

Near the end of the open house, Neah Lekan, OC Science Vice President of Digital Marketing and Special Events Coordinator, emceed the annual Presidential Volunteer Service Award (PVSA) ceremony. Math For Service volunteers who put in more than 50 hours in the past 2015-2016 year to their respective organizations were awarded this prestigious award. Members were given bronze, silver, or gold medals, depending on how many hours they put into Math For Service.

After this year’s Open House concluded, Math For Service successfully gained more interested volunteers for next year’s activities. “It was one of the best Open Houses we’ve had,” says Yuki Yamazaki, one of MFS’s members. “It’s definitely a great starting point to volunteer and get involved with many other young volunteers, and you can also experience different aspects of math, science, and art.” 

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