Over 100 schoolchildren from Santa Monica and the Westside of Los Angeles took part in the free 2nd Annual Santa Monica College (SMC) STEM Festival, organized in celebration of Earth Week from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 4 at the college’s main campus in Santa Monica, Calif. It was a day of discovering that learning about things like the principles of gravity and the non-Newtonian properties of Oobleck can be fun. And parents who showed up joined their children in a day of taking delight in learning.

Organized by the student-run SMC Chemistry Club—which recently earned the highest honors from the American Chemical Society for the second straight year—the free community festival was also co-sponsored by the Associated Students of Santa Monica College. A total of 59 student and faculty volunteers—from various STEM departments, Music, and the SMC Drescher Planetarium included—presented activity after activity designed to help participants learn about STEM in an engaging way. Live demos and experiments featuring the extraction of genomic DNA from strawberries, a coding activity, a hydrogen fuel cell demo, and many more were highlighted at the festival.

“The day turned out exactly the way I hoped it would…there was never a lull, our volunteers were busy presenting their activities and our visitors never had to wait long to participate,” said Dr. Jennifer Hsieh, SMC Associate Professor of Chemistry, who is also a faculty advisor to the SMC Chemistry Club. “Every person I spoke with expressed how much they loved the event and…that’s the most rewarding thing I could hear!”

The 1st Annual SMC STEM Festival held in April 2018 was cited prominently among the several activities which earned the SMC Chemistry Club the “Outstanding” award from the American Chemical Society, which is the world’s largest scientific society. Last year, roughly 80 schoolchildren participated.

To stay connected with the SMC Chemistry Club, ‘like’ it on Facebook (“facebook.com/chemistryclubsmc”) or follow on Instagram: @smc.chemclub. The clubs meets every Tuesday in Science 155 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Email inquiries may also be sent to chemclubofsmc@gmail.com.

For more information about SMC’s highly regarded STEM Program — encompassing distinctive, hands-on academic instruction and student, support/tutoring, as well as a gateway to research and internship opportunities at JPL, NASA, UCLA, and more—visit smc.edu/STEM.

Submitted by Grace Smith

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