By Michelle Xu
The Orange County Science and Engineering Fair Board joined together with OC Science to host the OCSEF Youth Leadership Conference on Dec. 13th. The event was consisted of two parts: talks from prestigious speakers like USA IMO coach Po-Shen Loh and the Science and Engineering Research Bowl. Different students from different schools all across Orange County we invited to this event.
The event kicked off with a school roll call by emcee Neah Lekan, the Marketing and Publicity Lead Link of OC Science. After all the schools cheered in enthusiasm when their names were called, the first speaker, Mark Hobbs, was invited to the stage.
Mark Hobbs, the Director of Registration of OCSEF, gave a speech on science fairs. He went through all the steps of how to do a science project, and gave the students examples of what to do and what not to do.
After Mark Hobbs finished his presentation, a team of volunteers passed out paper and pencil tests for the preliminary round of the Science and Engineering Research Bowl to each middle school and high school team. Each school consisted of a team of five students, and the top four schools determined by the preliminary test would move on to the final round, which is structured like the Mathcounts Countdown Round.
As each team progressed through the challenging questions, there was no doubt that teammates bonded with each other. Due to the short amount of time allotted for the test, the teams resorted to splitting up the test. After the time was up, the proctors collected the tests, the participants nervously waited for the results, and the next speaker was invited up to the stage.
Modesto Llanos is the vice-president of the Orange County Chapter of Engineers Without Borders, a nonprofit organization. Llanos broadened the students’ views on the work engineers were doing around the world. For example, he talked about the sanitation systems in Mexico and the Honduras.
Professor Po-Shen Loh, the USA International Math Olympiad coach, talked about his journey through mathematics. He talked about how he became addicted to solving “impossible” problems, and how that was important in his career and success. His dedication brought him to become the coach of the USA Math Olympiad team, where he works with some of the brightest minds in the world. Not only do the students learn new knowledge from him, but he also learns a lot from the students.
When Professor Po-Shen Loh was finished with his presentation, Neah took the stage again to announce the much anticipated results of the preliminary Science and Engineering Research bowl competition. The middle schools that advanced were Rancho San Joaquin Middle School, Serrano Middle School, South Lake Middle School, and Fairmont Private School. The high schools that advanced were Beckman High School, Troy High School, Irvine High School, and Los Alamitos High School.
Neah and OC Science Education Lead Link Michelle Xu read the science questions out loud, and the first team who rang the bell would get a chance to answer. The rounds were best out of three, and in the end, Rancho San Joaquin MS won the middle school competition and Beckman HS won the high school competition.
No matter how well their teams did, all the participants gained new insights on the world of STEM. “The OCSEF conference was very informative, and I really enjoyed both the competitions and the speeches,” says Sara Du, a member of the Beckman team.
Thank you to everyone who participated in the Youth Leadership Conference on December 13th! Congratulations to the following winners:
Serrano Middle School
Fairmont Middle School Delegation I
Southlake Middle School Delegation I
Grand Prize Winner: Rancho San Joaquin Middle School
Troy High School
Los Alamitos High School
Irvine High School
Grand Prize Winner: Arnold O. Beckman High School
By Alexander Xu
On Saturday, April 25th, 2015, OC Science hosted the Elementary Science Olympiad at the OC Fairgrounds. The Elementary Science Olympiad invited students from grades 3 to 5 to participate in fun activities: building roller coasters and exploring states of matter, just to name a few. The event lasted from 9 in the morning to 1:30 in the afternoon, during which each student had the opportunity to participate in two of eight total stations. Hundreds of elementary school students and their parents attended the event, which was run by groups of volunteers. Volunteer captains ran each station, which ranged from Astronomy to Crime Busters to Large Number Estimation, from Build It to Building Prokaryotes, and much more!
The stations were creative, fun, and well-designed. The student volunteers in charge of the stations had spent many hours working on their individual events. Many of the volunteers were also extremely enthusiastic about their assigned station. One captain I spoke to said, with conviction, that her station “was by far the most fun station.” Other captains shared similar sentiments.
One of the stations showcased creative ideas testing students’ senses. For example, the Sensory Challenge captain, Albert Wen, designed his station around the YouTube video Alarmageddon. His event tested students’ hearing and eyesight in a series of activities that revolved around optical and audio illusions, in order to demonstrate the importance of senses. Another station, Roller Coasters, was designed to teach students about physics and gravity, and tested how far students could launch a marble using a foam-tubing rollercoaster they built and designed at the Olympiad Invitational. A station that many students enjoyed was Solid Liquid Gas, where students observed changes in many of the states of matter. The captains, Amy Zhong and Michelle Jeon, showcased exciting demonstrations with dry ice, a substance that transforms from a solid straight into a gas. Each station was unique and offered students a great experience.
The students in attendance of the event were all extremely enthusiastic about the event as well. For some, the events at the Elementary Science Olympiad Invitational were a completely new experience: seeing dry ice and building their own roller coasters. For others, it was something they knew and loved, and they were experts at each station.
One student loved everything about the event. At the Sensory Challenge station, he experienced what he claimed to be one of the most exciting things at the whole event: one would attempt to follow the sound of a wooden handle being knocked against one of a series of buckets, and while blindfolded, try to throw a beanbag into that bucket.
Another student at the Solid Liquid Gas station said that his favorite thing, by far, was the dry ice, because “it was a solid and a gas at the same time!” The opportunity to work with chemical reactions (for example, mixing baking soda and vinegar) was also an exciting activity for the kids at that station as well.
Even the parents had a blast at the event. Many of the parents loved the front tables, where cool scientific activities were displayed for everyone to experiment with. They also loved the variety of stations there. One parent brought all three of her children to the event, one as a volunteer, and two as participants. She said that the event was “a great experience,” and that her children loved all the stations. Another parent said that all the exhibits were great ways to get children interested in science, and that the work being done was “very inspiring."
All in all, it’s safe to say that the event was a great success for parents, students, and OC Science volunteers.