UCF Hosts Fourth STEM Day
By Julia Anderson
On Friday, October 28, the University of Central Florida hosted 1,200 K-12 students on campus for its bi-annual STEM Day event.
Students from 33 schools across Orange, Seminole, Volusia, Hernando, Brevard and Sumter counties participated in the event coordinated by the Center for Initiatives in STEM (iSTEM). Several home school groups attended as well.
This fall 2016 event marked the fourth STEM Day hosted at the university. STEM Day is an outreach event for K-12 students interested in learning more about the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The day featured a wide variety of activities and demonstrations focused on STEM disciplines, led and designed by UCF faculty and students.
In addition to the demonstrations and activities hosted throughout campus, retired astronaut Mike McCulley spoke to all of the attendees, sharing his story and answering students’ questions.
The College of Sciences was well represented throughout campus, with faculty and students hosting several demonstrations and activities at the event.
UCF Arboretum staff led students through a tour of its organic community garden. Students learned about urban organic gardening and participated in seeding future crops. The arboretum also hosted several activities on its site throughout the day.
The Department of Chemistry hosted multiple activities and demonstrations. ‘Soda Eruption!’ showed students how adding mentos candies to various carbonated beverages causes an eruption of soda. ‘Elephant Toothpaste’ demonstrated chemical reactivity through an eruption of colored foaming bubbles. Additional activities hosted by the department included crime scene chemistry, liquid nitrogen, and the creation of dry ice bubbles, slime, and chemical clocks.
The Department of Mathematics hosted ‘The Party Problem and Pigeonhole Principle,’ where participants solved a problem using the pigeonhole principle.
The Nicholson School of Communication hosted the panel ‘Growing Your Roots in STEM at UCF’ where UCF STEM Honors Program students shared advice and their separate journeys into medical research, engineering, and the Medical Scholars Program.
The Department of Physics hosted several demonstrations throughout the day including interactive activities that taught different fields of physics in ‘The Fun in Physics’ and ‘The Physics Wonder.’
UCF physics students also conducted the ‘Bed of Nails and Broken Glass’ demonstration, sandwiching physics students between two beds of nails while a concrete block was placed on top and broken by the use of a sledgehammer. ‘Comet Activity’ and ‘Understanding the Math and Physics behind Soap Bubbles’ were also led by the department. STEM Day participants learned the physics behind these diverse demonstrations.
The National Center for Forensic Science at UCF hosted ‘Forensic Investigation: Observation vs. Inference.’ Students were presented with a scenario and asked to determine what happened through observation and inference.
The Department of Political Science hosted ‘The Balance of Power: International Relations and Tug-of-War’ to demonstrate the theory of realism.
The Department of Psychology hosted ‘Trick Your Brain and Explore Video Games’ where participants learned the science behind optical illusions by looking at how strange pictures are able to trick your brain. Participants also examined video games through the ages, and discussed how design changes have helped make games more inviting and fun to play.
Other contributors at STEM Day included:
- Air Force ROTC
- Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences
- Civil, Environmental and Construction Engineering Department
- College of Optics and Photonics
- Computer Science Department
- Electrical and Computer Engineering Department
- Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department
- Molecular Biology and Microbiology Department
- NanoScience Technology Center
- Office of Undergraduate Admissions
- Office of Undergraduate Research
- Alpha Pi Mu
- American Chemical Society at UCF
- American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA)
- American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)
- American Society of Engineering Education
- American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
- Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)
- Civil Air Patrol, US Air Force Auxiliary
- Complex Adaptive Systems Laboratory
- Hack @ UCF
- IEEE at UCF
- Institute of Industrial and Systems Engineers
- Lunar Knights Robotic Mining Club
- National Science Teachers Association at UCF
- Neuroscience Alliance at UCF
- Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)
- Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE)
- Tau Beta Pi
- UCF Robotics Club
- Women of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (WEECS)