UBMSC Hosted Its First STEM Field Day

CenterPoint Newsletter | January 2016 | by Geannine Jordan, Assistant Director for UBMSC

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The UNLV Upward Bound Math & Science Center (UBMSC) furthered its mission to educate the UBMSC participants in various STEM fields by continuing their collaboration with the UNLV Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering. Spearheading the event was Dr. Dave James, Director for the Solar and Renewable Energy program within the UNLV Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Construction. Dr. James worked closely with the UBMSC staff with the planning and implementation of the STEM field Day. This was a great opportunity for students to have fun, while increasing their scientific knowledge through an interactive, hands-on experience.

UBMSC participants engaged in the following team building and STEM-related activities: pop fly, truss bridge, water filtration, resistance tower, and foam chair. The pop fly activity had students explore engineering by building a catapult device that would launch a ping pong ball across the room. This exercise focuses on how engineers consider resource constraints and the laws of physics to develop and improve designs. The water filtration activity had students build a filtration system using cotton balls, sand, dirt, pea gravel, drainage rock, a styrofoam cup, and a sixteen-ounce water bottle to compare the quality of water filtered with that of pure water. The objective was for each team to understand the engineering design process while using natural resources in a water filtration system and then to compose a technical report. The final activity, foam chair, had participants building a prototype chair made out of foam boards. The miniature chairs had to be sturdy enough to withstand 145 pounds to 250 pounds.

The resistance tower (block & tackle system) allowed UBMSC participants the opportunity to trade force for distance. The simplest theory of operation for a pulley system assumes that the pulleys and lines are weightless, and that there is no energy loss due to friction. Participants had the opportunity to see how friction is used in everyday life—exercise machines and elevators, etc.

Overall, it was a great day! The UBMSC participants had their first of many more STEM field days, where they learned new skills to incorporate STEM activities into their daily lives.

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