To kick off our mission of inspiring the next generation of innovators and coincidentally, the new year, we held our first workshops at the East Palo Alto Public Library last week! Over the course of these three workshops, more than twenty young students from the East Palo Alto community learned the fascinating and exciting nature of STEM through hands-on science demonstrations and experiments.
On the first day, we began with a discussion on the nature of science, then swept into a whirlwind of chemistry, the science of what things are made of. For their first experiment, students raced to crack the mystery through ink chromatography, using qualitative observations to compare their results and draw conclusions from the patterns. Students then learned about how scientists use this technique for actual crimes, identifying dangerous chemicals in food and water, and more!
After a quick snack break, students learned about the states of matter and then investigated these states by making their own non-Newtonian fluids that they were able to play with and take home! They practiced their precise measurement skills to make their own slime and then made observations about its unique properties. Then, they learned how some fluids can be classified as different states of matter based on how much pressure is applied and how slime is able to do this because it's made of long chains of atoms called polymers.
On the next day, we introduced the concept of energy and electrical circuits. After learning about the prevalence and importance of electricity, students explored circuitry through SnapCircuit challenges, learning firsthand about open/closed and parallel/series circuits.
Once they became SnapCircuit pros, students made their own electrical circuits with paper! They exercised both their creativity and circuit knowledge by creating light-up art.
On the final day, students learned how to code! First, students built fundamental skills of programming and algorithmic thinking by outlining the steps needed for one of our Curieus team members to build a PB&J, debugging their "program" until Ben had a yummy product!
Last, but not least, students coded their own games using Scratch! After a quick introduction to the basics of building a hide-and-seek game, students were encouraged to explore the programming language and their creativity, picking up on more advanced computer concepts like loops and variables along the way. To conclude, students shared their favorite/most challenging parts of the process and their future plans for their coding journeys.
Special thanks to Kenny Gabe Ocana from East Palo Alto Library for his invaluable help and the TutorCorps Foundation for supporting our pilot workshops!