UC Merced hosted sixth- through eighth-graders from Weaver School as part of Kids Day during Engineers Week last month.
Students rotated between three STEM-related stations — creating volcanic eruptions using acid-based chemical reactions, producing solar circuits, and touring Central Plant and underground tunnels on campus.
“I believe in order for students to be successful in the STEM disciplines, their STEM education has to start early,” STEM Resource Center coordinator Petia Gueorguieva said. “It is important to be exposed to science- and engineering-related events and to see that it can be fun.”
The event ended with a panel led by UC Merced students, who discussed STEM fields and ways to pursue innovative professions such as engineering and science.
Kids Day was led by junior Ethan Murcia and organized by Vanguard Engineering Society, the umbrella organization of the School of Engineering that houses student chapters for engineering professional organizations. The university’s STEM Resource Center and Young Engineer and Scientist (YES) Academy also contributed to the event.
YES Academy is an outreach program by the STEM Resource Center and the UC Merced Fresno Center Office of External Relations. The group hosts workshops at schools throughout the county to introduce students to STEM careers, but Kids Day event was the first full-scale event held on UC Merced’s campus.
“An added bonus is that we can expose these students to college campus life,” Gueorguieva said. “UC Merced students provide an enthusiastic environment that encourages the younger generation to pursue higher education and STEM careers.”
Engineers Week ran from Feb. 18-22. Events on campus throughout the week emphasized the field of engineering as well as the research students and faculty members are conducting.
“Many amazing projects are currently underway but often do not get the recognition they deserve,” said junior Jake Totter, who is part of Vanguard. “Engineers Week puts our engineers on display, showcasing their successes and amazing feats. Kids Day is an important piece of Engineers Week because it expands the awareness of their successes as well as inspires the next generation of engineers, showing them that their aspirations are possible.”