Members of Math for Service gathered to put on a fair called STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts Math) in the Park on Saturday, August 26. Their purpose was to provide young students ranging from elementary to middle school with opportunities to broaden their scope of knowledge by setting up numerous booths filled with different activities in different fields of study.
Organizations under Math for Service like OC Math Circle, OC Science, OC Scholar and OC Coder, to name a few, set up interactive activities that pertained to their specific academic area. For example, OC Science had a booth that for making helicopters, lava lamps and slime, while OC Math Circle had a booth for Jenga, Rubik’s cubes and estimation games.
Volunteers began set up around noon for the 2 p.m. event, anticipating a large event, for last year’s STEAM in the Park was very popular. After finishing preparations and hanging banners, the members started to see the elementary and middle school students file in with their parents in tow. Eager faces greeted the check-in station, where they were given a sheet with a list of all the booths and activities and encouraged to return with a completely checked-off list after visiting every station.
“I think it’s really allowing students to be exposed to the business side at a very early age because business is a very vague idea until you actually take classes,” OC Launch CEO and University High School senior Lucy Liu said. “I think giving early exposure gives students an idea like, ‘Hey, maybe this is what I’m interested in.’ That’s why we’re providing workshops to have this exposure so hopefully when our organization grows to be more successful and have a larger influence, we will be able to increase the exposure.”
When asked about the significance of STEAM in the Park as a whole, she said, “[It] also plays in the exposure factor because this is a free event in…the center of Irvine. Most of them come for fun…I think STEAM in the Park is really one of those gateways for people to get interested in these sort of things.”
“I think [STEAM in the Park] helps people visually and hands-on,” OC Arts President and Northwood High School senior Michelle Kim said. “When they come to these kind of events, they can get a small taste of how we try to help our community though different events and activities.”
She went on to discuss the importance of arts in the development of young students, saying, “I think arts helps give some kind of respite from the STEM part of the brain. With our STEAM statement, I think people can recognize the importance of arts in our community, especially since budgets for art programs in school are going down…We need to remember and understand the importance of arts in the development of our kids for the future.”
The booths were bustling with eager children and curious parents; they were in a large continuous set-up in the shape of a square so that people could easily go from one booth to the next. OC Science had a very popular booth where students could make their own slime. Additionally, they had a booth that sold books at a very discounted price, encouraging younger students to read.
The All Girls Math Tournament organization hosted a math relay activity and had a booth where students solve difficult math word problems and received a reward if they did well.
OC Engineering had a booth where students could build paper rockets and propel them into the air by blowing into a straw.
Third grader Kenneth Lansigan and kindergartener, Bea Lansigan, his younger sister, were taking a break from the activities and eating Dippin’ Dots ice cream together. Kenneth was especially excited, saying that when he came here, “I wanted to see the coding stuff.” He and Bea both agreed that their favorite activity was the booth that had Minecraft.
“We came here because my robotics team was trying to get more into STEAM so we can understand what we’re doing with our robots,” seventh grade participant Courtney said. “While we do engineering when making the robots, we also use what we learn to try to figure things out. Knowing more stuff about what we do is helping us.”
When asked about how events like STEAM in the Park has helped her, she replied, “I like how they’re trying to introduce you to certain topics to help you understand what you’re learning while also making it fun.”
After two hours of busy activities, the students started to file out contently and the Math for Service members began to clean up, concluding yet another successful STEAM in the Park event.