By Ellie Gibbs

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Most people wouldn’t expect kids from grades three through five to voluntarily spend their Sunday mornings learning about science and all that STEAM has to offer.

However, OC Science, a student-run, nonprofit organization based in Irvine that consistently reaches out to kids from the community has managed to generate enough excitement about the field to bring approximately 100 students to the Tustin Community Center on April 23 for the third annual Elementary Science Olympiad Invitational.

The Elementary Science Olympiad Invitational consisted of eight Science-Olympiad style events targeted at third to fifth graders. The event registration filled up quickly, and the Tustin Community Center filled up even faster with eager participants.

“It was really busy, which is a good sign,” said Vesal Razavimaleki, the OC Science Director of Registration. “We were rushing to make sure everyone was well-tended to.”

The biggest reason OC Science spends time and volunteer hours on events like the Elementary Science Olympiad is clearly communicated and well understood among event-goers, from parents to students and other volunteers. Sherry Xu, OC Science President, explained “[The Olympiad] gives young kids the opportunity to explore science and all of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math).” Michelle Xu, Vice President of Education, continued “Events like this help give students an introduction to the kids what these kinds of events are about and show them what Olympiads are like.”

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Both girls explained the long-term goal of hosting science competitions is to increase the popularity of Science Olympiad among elementary students, “especially if they don’t have it in their school,” said Sherry.

The Elementary Science Olympiad Invitational took place in a meeting room at the Tustin Community Center with round tables that served as stations for different science experiments including “Picture This,” “Crime Busters,” “Solid, Liquid, Gas,” “Build it,” “Sound Detection” and “Don’t Bug Me!” OC Science volunteers served as leads at each station and gave students background information and taught them about what each station was about. Then, the competitors took a test which was graded and ranked to decided top winners for the event.

Not only are the students able to learn and experience opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to, they are also enjoying themselves. Justin Kline, a competitor in the Olympiad was delighted to share his opinion, saying, “I think it’s really fun and my favorite part was learning about how solids and liquids turn into each other.”

Connor Chan, nearby, in, “I liked the dry ice the best. I learned that you can make a bubble!”

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Parent and a middle school science teacher Gina Beelner thought the Elementary Science Olympiad was “a fun way to get exposed to science, especially because the kids aren’t stressed about the competition.”

Kathy Armstrong, another parent attending the event elaborated, that “since it’s [OC Science and the Olympiad] lead by [high school] students, the competition is less intimidating.”

Organizations like OC Science help take the message of the importance of STEAM in our world today and make it more accessible to students around the county. It helps to make sure that every student has the opportunity to indulge in their curiosity to find out more about the universe around them in a way that is fun, competitive and educational.

To learn more about the Orange County Science and Engineering Week, visit the website https://ocseweek.wordpress.com/.

To learn more about Orange County Science and the events that they offer, visit their website www.ocscience.org.