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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

Ask-a-Scientist Nights

Four successful Ask-a-Scientist Nights were held by THINK Together and OC Science at C.E. Utt. Middle School, Columbus Tustin Middle School, A.G. Currie Middle School, and Portola Middle School.

These four events in October 2016 marked the start of the ten-week training and mentoring program that the OC Science and Engineering Fair and THINK Together have planned in hopes of teaching the students at the aforementioned middle schools how to develop a science project. The first training and mentoring session began on October 26, 2016.

By February 2017, the students will be prepared to have their own Mini-Science Fair, where all of their hard work will be showcased.

“The best part of any one of these events is being next to the students as they go through that eureka moment,” OC Science Vice President of Marketing Neah Lekan said. “That moment of discovery, when the kids have a smile on their faces, is a big deal.”

OC Science, an affiliated Youth Leadership Program of OCSEF, a student-run volunteering program dedicated to promote science and engineering in Orange County, has been responsible for conducting the Ask-a-Scientist Nights and will conduct the training sessions. All of the students volunteers are highly qualified and have been trained to provide the most meaningful and memorable experience for the middle school students.

“I believe that the future of the world depends on the next generation’s education in STEAM,” OC Science Director of Event Logistics and Registration Vesal Razavimaleki said. “And involving young students in engaging activities, such as those operated by OC Science, are a key part of keeping them active.”
THINK Together is an organization that creates opportunities for all kids to discover their passions and reach their full potential. Already, over 300 students have attended the four Ask-a-Scientist Nights. The Chair of the Outreach Committee and OCSEF Board Member Dean Gilbert has high expectations for this program.

"Seeing all of the young future scientists and engineers get excited as they participated in a variety of hands-on activities was an overwhelming experience for me,” Gilbert said after the Utt Middle School Ask-a-Scientist Night. “Bringing this opportunity to Utt Middle School is so important, for it is one step closer in breaking down existing and perceived barriers for these students that probably do not have access to a rich hands-on science curriculum."

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.”

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.”

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.”


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