More than 200 adults and kids of all ages participated in family-friendly science-based activities and experiments at the second annual Magic of Science event at Los Angeles Mission College.
“We are so excited to offer this event annually. The goal is to promote the sciences, math and engineering and ignite the kids’ enthusiasm for STEM,” said Par Mohammadian, Ph.D., vice chair of Life Sciences at LAMC, which presented the event on the east campus, at the Center for Math and Science. “Next year, we hope to collaborate with more middle schools and high schools to use this event as a field trip day for students.”
The Halloween-themed event on Oct. 21 included a “Jack-O-Lantern DNA Extraction” activity, co-presented by Mitsy Natareno, a lab technician for ABE-LA at LAMC. She believes that finding unique ways to introduce kids to science can help “spark their curiosity” for learning.
“Science is a difficult subject to broach and we try our best to find different ways of making it relatable,” said Natareno. By creating a fun approach to extracting DNA from pumpkin puree, for example, science is “no longer just a drawing or a picture; it’s something that is tangible,” she said.
“When they see that science can be fun, they [become] curious, and that curiosity leads to questions and those questions lead to developing important critical thinking skills,” she explained. “Those [simple] things make a big difference.”
Annie Aghajanian, an intern for the STEM program at LAMC, presented “The Magic of Jumping” experiment. She had the children do math calculations to try to figure out how many rubber bands would be needed for Barbie (and other dolls and action figures) to successfully “bungee jump” off the second-story landing of the building.
“This experiment was teaching the kids about physics in a fun way,” said Aghajanian. “The purpose of this whole event is to get kids excited about science. It’s a great opportunity [for] people within the community and it’s always great to get to see everyone’s happy faces.”
Other activity highlights included an interactive session called “The Magic of Movement,” a DNA mystery experiment called “Who Ate the Cookies?” and an engineering challenge between two student teams competing to see who created the most stable one- and two-story structures.
Karina Cardenas took her 4-year-old daughter Evelyn to the Magic of Science event and said they also attended last year. She said she decided to return because her daughter “loved it.”
“This is our second time and I really enjoy watching her have a good time with the activities [they] have here. She’s very hands-on, so she really enjoys it,” said Cardenas. “I think it’s great they offer this for free for families. I’m planning on coming every year.”
Griselda Murillo, a local mom who attended with her son, daughter and nephew, described the event as a learning experience for her as well. Murillo said she learned about two “easy” science experiments that she can try at home with her children.
“I think this was a great event,” she said. “This was my first time bringing them here, but I think we’ll be back next time.”