By Michelle Xu
One buzzer. Two students. Three questions.
OC Science continues to host its annual Science Bowl competition as part of the Imaginology week, but for the first time, OC Science began offering Science Bowl Training Session with the first class on Jan. 14 at Ardent Academy Northwood.
OC Science created its own Science Bowl as a way to carry out its mission of spreading the interest of STEM to students in OC.
The rules of the OC Science’s Science Bowl are different from those of the National Science Bowl. OC Science’s Science Bowl is not a team competition - each individual will face one-on-one with another person. A multiple-choice question is read out loud by the moderator, and the first person to press the buzzer gets to answer the question. The first person to get the most questions right out of three gets to move on to the next round.
The Science Bowl is held in April as part of Math for Service’s Imaginology week. In order for participants to qualify for the Science Bowl, they must score high enough in OC Science’s Problems of the Month. The Problems of the Month are a series of science questions released every month on the OC Science website.
“I am very excited about our new program this school year, the Problems of the Month,” OC Science president Sherry Xu says. “I think they really promote scientific thinking among elementary and middle schoolers, and I encourage everyone who can to participate.”
The first class for the Science Bowl Training Session went over what the Science Bowl was and the basic rules of the Science Bowl. Students then participated in a mock Science Bowl to practice the new knowledge that they learned.
“I really like it,” Science Bowl class student Lara Tseng says. “I like the Science Bowl game that we are doing. I didn’t know about the Problems of the Month before, but I think I want to participate in it now.”
Starting in the month of January, OC Science will be conducting its Problems of the Month on Canvas and implement a feedback system.
“This is a fun class,” Science Bowl class teacher Nicholas Lee says. “The kids are very eager to participate in the Science Bowl, and I am sure they are learning new things. I think that when the kids start learning about the actual subjects, they will be even more interested. When the kids actually started practicing in the Science Bowl, they got to learn the different rules of the Science Bowl and they got a feel for what the competition will be like.”
By Ellie Gibbs
Most people wouldn’t expect kids from grades three through five to voluntarily spend their Sunday mornings learning about science and all that STEAM has to offer.
However, OC Science, a student-run, nonprofit organization based in Irvine that consistently reaches out to kids from the community has managed to generate enough excitement about the field to bring approximately 100 students to the Tustin Community Center on April 23 for the third annual Elementary Science Olympiad Invitational.
The Elementary Science Olympiad Invitational consisted of eight Science-Olympiad style events targeted at third to fifth graders. The event registration filled up quickly, and the Tustin Community Center filled up even faster with eager participants.
“It was really busy, which is a good sign,” said Vesal Razavimaleki, the OC Science Director of Registration. “We were rushing to make sure everyone was well-tended to.”
The biggest reason OC Science spends time and volunteer hours on events like the Elementary Science Olympiad is clearly communicated and well understood among event-goers, from parents to students and other volunteers. Sherry Xu, OC Science President, explained “[The Olympiad] gives young kids the opportunity to explore science and all of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math).” Michelle Xu, Vice President of Education, continued “Events like this help give students an introduction to the kids what these kinds of events are about and show them what Olympiads are like.”
Both girls explained the long-term goal of hosting science competitions is to increase the popularity of Science Olympiad among elementary students, “especially if they don’t have it in their school,” said Sherry.
The Elementary Science Olympiad Invitational took place in a meeting room at the Tustin Community Center with round tables that served as stations for different science experiments including “Picture This,” “Crime Busters,” “Solid, Liquid, Gas,” “Build it,” “Sound Detection” and “Don’t Bug Me!” OC Science volunteers served as leads at each station and gave students background information and taught them about what each station was about. Then, the competitors took a test which was graded and ranked to decided top winners for the event.
Not only are the students able to learn and experience opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to, they are also enjoying themselves. Justin Kline, a competitor in the Olympiad was delighted to share his opinion, saying, “I think it’s really fun and my favorite part was learning about how solids and liquids turn into each other.”
Connor Chan, nearby, in, “I liked the dry ice the best. I learned that you can make a bubble!”
Parent and a middle school science teacher Gina Beelner thought the Elementary Science Olympiad was “a fun way to get exposed to science, especially because the kids aren’t stressed about the competition.”
Kathy Armstrong, another parent attending the event elaborated, that “since it’s [OC Science and the Olympiad] lead by [high school] students, the competition is less intimidating.”
Organizations like OC Science help take the message of the importance of STEAM in our world today and make it more accessible to students around the county. It helps to make sure that every student has the opportunity to indulge in their curiosity to find out more about the universe around them in a way that is fun, competitive and educational.
To learn more about the Orange County Science and Engineering Week, visit the website https://ocseweek.wordpress.com/.
By Michelle Xu
Over a hundred Orange County Science members from different schools across Orange County socialized, bonded and competed at the second annual Youth Leadership Conference on Dec. 3 in the University High School theater.
As an ever-expanding organization, OC Science has reached out to local high schools and created a series of school chapters. The Youth Leadership Conference is an event solely designed for school chapter members to get to know one another - each school chapter sent a delegation of members to attend the conference.
This year, the event consisted of a keynote speech by Dr. Mu-Chun Chen (a physics professor at the University of California, Irvine), an engineering challenge, and a Science Bowl competition, structured after the National Science Bowl.
Dr. Mu-Chun Chen inspired the science enthusiasts with a lecture about her research on fundamental particle masses, the origin of neutrino masses and oscillation, the origin of the matter antimatter asymmetry, and the unification of all fundamental forces into a grand unified theory.
“The world is made of universal building blocks,” Dr. Chen said. “My research is about whether or not there is a simpler theory that can explain this phenomenon.”
After Dr. Chen’s lecture, each of the students got together with members of their own school chapter to take on the engineering challenge. The challenge involved designing a system to move a 9,000 lb elephant onto a rail car. The chapter members drew their designs for the system on a poster, and each chapter was called on to the stage to present their designs.
“As a chapter, I felt like the engineering challenge gave us an opportunity to really build teamwork skills,” Northwood High School chapter president and sophomore Elaine Chao said. “We had to negotiate with other members of the chapter with opposing viewpoints.”
The event concluded with the Science Bowl competition. Each school chapter had to send up a team of three to five members to compete head-to-head with another chapter team. Similar to a quiz bowl, the competitors were given a series of multiple choice science questions. The first team that rings a bell gets to answer the question, and the first team to get best out of three moves on to the next round.
“My favorite part of the event was the Science Bowl,” Irvine High School sophomore Sean Hingco said. “It was fun and exciting.”
The Science Bowl concluded with Beckman High taking third place, Irvine High taking second and Portola High taking first and taking home the honorary Science Bowl trophy.
“YLC was an event specially intended for all school chapter members to meet each other and build leadership and teamwork skills through hands-on activities, while learning about volunteerism and having a little competitive fun as well,” OC Science Vice President of School Chapters Tu Trinh says. “YLC went by extremely smoothly and I'm glad that all of OC Science's hard work paid off in the end, and that we were able to bring such fun to our chapters' Saturday afternoon.”
To read more articles like this, visit http://ocscholar.org
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.
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.
"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."