Courtesy of Gavilan College:
Science Alive was a magnet for nearly 300 middle school students in rainy March, who flocked to Gavilan College for a fun, educational Saturday morning.
The program, on a lull in 2017 while the Gavilan College Student Center underwent seismic retrofit repairs, has offered hands-on science workshops since 2001. Any student attending a middle school in the overall college district is eligible to attend.
One morning, three sessions, where to go?
Students attended three hour-long sessions across 18 simultaneous workshops:
• CSI – Where the Evident Never Lies! featuring forensics and deductive reasoning
• The Heart of the Matter learning the heart’s function and form through dissection
• A Cow’s Eye View discovering the eye’s function and form through dissection
• Squidding Around! discovering amazing properties about this animal
• Fractals exploring a new kind of geometry using a variety of tools
• Slime Time, Chemistry of Polymers making sticky goo in a laboratory
• Build a Trebuchet! an 11th century medieval defense machine
• Bending Light & Making Ice Cream when liquid nitrogen freezes objects
• Fun with Chemistry making a lava lamp, creating snow and elephant toothpaste
• Computer Game Development learning programming is fun with a bricks game
• Optical Illusions exploring the perception of color creating Benham’s and Newton’s disks
• Up, Up and Away! as students built and launched their own hot air balloons
• Building a Newton Rocket Car using Newton’s Third Law of Motion
• Build a Hovercraft a working model of a vehicle traveling on a cushion of air
• Secret Life of Strawberries students watch DNA appear before their very eyes
• Tapping the Wind building and testing an experimental wind turbine blade
• All About Solar learning about renewables and investigating solar outside
• Pulsars – Smaller Footprint than San Jose, Heavier than the Sun what are these amazing astronomical spinning objects?
Fun with science
From its origins under the auspices of AAUW, with founders Penny Lockhart and Lynn Lockhart, a former math instructor at Gavilan, Science Alive seemed a perfect fit for Gavilan’s math and science programs. Faculty viewed it as a great opportunity to introduce middle school students to a fun inquiry into science and acquaint them with Gavilan College opportunities.
“We pitched the idea to AAUW, bringing it to the college,” said Hope Jukl, retired math instructor. At the beginning, about 100 students attended. “Every year we improved, attendance increased, and by the fourth year, we figured out how to run it smoothly, increase participation and build in metrics.”
Workshops are now taught by Gavilan students, Gavilan faculty, area volunteers and local organizations. Many volunteers have presented the same workshops for more than a decade. New this year, students from UCSC taught a number of workshops in chemistry and physics.
Entry fee for participants is $10. For students qualifying for a free or reduced-fee meal plan at their schools, the program is free. Gavilan’s STEM III grant covered many of the event expenses. Staff and departments across campus worked to make it a memorable event.
More than 100 volunteers, in addition to the workshop instructors, ensure an organized, smooth running event. Driving the recruitment and organization of all these volunteers is Noemi Naranjo, with the Public Information Office. She has worked behind the scenes for more than a decade to recruit and deploy volunteers for everything from set up and workshop support to clean up and equipment tear down. Gavilan volunteers are students who earn extra credit or GECA students fulfilling their community service hours.