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March 28, 2023

Science Alive returns to Gavilan College

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.

Organizational glue

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.

A hit with students, lava bottles are a make-and-take project.
Learning the physics of magnetic properties.
Noemi Naranjo recruits and tracks the volunteers needed to support the event.
Whodunit? A ‘murder’ occurred, and students examine crime scene evidence to deduce the perpetrator.
Students build fractal structures using computers, paper and three-dimensional structures.
Students learn anatomy of the heart and dissection to explore inner functionality.
Hope Jukl, Ken Wagman and Humayun Rashid are all smiles at the conclusion of another
successful Science Alive Saturday.
UCSC science students teaching workshops at Science Alive 2018. Front row (L-R) Morgan Conrad,
Sofía Echeverría, Lucy Rivas, Diana Lucas. Back row: Martina Morelli, Aldrex Munsayac, Eva Jason,
Laura Gaskell, Binu Dhukuchhu, Allison Browne.

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