Inaugural STEM Day Reached Thousands

DSC_2858Friday morning, January 30, thousands of K-12 students from the Central Florida area spilled on to UCF’s campus for the inaugural STEM day.  STEM day is a bi-annual outreach event for K-12 students interested in learning more about the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Coordinated by the Center for Initiatives in STEM (iSTEM),  many colleges and departments across the university were involved in the planning of the day and the demonstrations that took place on campus.  Participating departments and academic areas from the College of Sciences included arboretum, biology department, chemistry department, National Center for Forensic Science, Nicholson School of Communicationpolitical science department, physics department, and the sociology department.   Click here for a link to our full participants list.   

The university hosted the young students in an effort to boost interest in the STEM fields. There were presenters, hands-on activities, exhibits and demonstrations offered around campus in which groups could choose to participate. They were given a hands on experience at many of the stations including a dry ice demo, “tie-dying” milk and flying a plane with their brain. Milling around the Engineering II atrium, hundreds of students stopped by tables with 3D printers, prosthetic hands and stethoscopes.

Taking a walk outside, a crowd formed around a display in the lawn of the Mathematical Sciences building. Two men were in between a bed of nails topped with a cinder block, and a man in a top hat was holding a sledge hammer. Met with a mix of fear and excitement, he asked whether or not the students thought the men would get hurt.

Showing them the significance of evenly distributed weight, the cinder block was broken and then two men emerged unharmed. By the end of the showcase every student was chanting “the power of math and science” as they walked to see the next exciting display.

The political science department held a unique tug of war demonstration entitled “Balance of Power Tug of War” to demonstrate theories of the balance of power in international relations.  One of the oldest theories, realism, argues that the number of great powers strongly affects dynamics of international relations, particularly their choices about whom they will ally with STEM day political Scienceand their willingness to betray alliance partners.  In this activity, participants had an opportunity to test these propositions on a much smaller scale—using an (up to) 4-way tug of war set.  After several ‘test’ runs that vary the conditions of the game, participants and faculty discussed what happened and how it may—or may not—reflect what happens in international relations.



At the end of the day, Knightro greeted groups of students at Memory Mall for a demonstration on the “physics of football.”  Click on this link for a video on this demonstration as posted by the Orlando Sentinel.


Jeff Bindell, Physics lecturer, and William Kaden, Assistant Professor of Physics, along with two UCF football players, showed the enthralled crowd why a football is shaped the way it is and how airflow affects it.  This was of special interest since Super Bowl weekend was upon us.

Special guests included Senator Bill Nelson, Dr Joan Ferrini-Mundy, Assistant Director of the National Science Foundation for Education and Human Resources, and UCF President John Hitt.

As the day came to an end, Knightro waved goodbye, looking forward to the UCF’s next STEM day.

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