Are you a local scientist or engineer? Do you enjoy sharing your knowledge and inspiring future generations? Then the Merced City School District would love to collaborate with you!
As I’ve shared in past columns, our district is expanding our award-winning STEAM (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math) program, which includes integrated lessons in the classroom as well as educational excursions and hands-on learning in our new state of the art STEAM Center. We are also in the process of planning our second annual districtwide science fair. All of these offerings create more opportunities to partner with experts from our community and to show our children the types of careers they can aspire to attain.
We are currently seeking volunteers for three different areas. The first is a series of “Ask a Scientist” nights. Participants will help students prepare for the district science fair by hosting a table and discussing topics such as hypotheses, variables, procedures, and conclusions. The main requirement is a general understanding of those elements as well as the science fair process. These gatherings will take place at 5 p.m. on Oct. 17, Nov. 7 and Dec. 7. Volunteers can sign up for as many of those sessions as they would like.
We are also looking for judges for the science fair, which will take place on Jan. 19 from 8 a.m. to noon. This is a great chance to see the incredible work our students are doing and to help determine which of them will go on to the countywide STEM fair hosted by the Merced County Office of Education in March. Last year, our students swept the top three spots at that event and went on to compete in the California State Science Fair in Los Angeles. Go MCSD!
Finally, we have several opportunities for scientists and engineers to speak to fourth, fifth, or sixth grade students at our STEAM Center throughout this school year. Each presenter will have about 30 to 40 minutes, including time for a question and answer session. The topic for fourth graders is wave energy, so we’re especially interested in volunteers who can share their knowledge of earthquakes. The children will be using maps to identify patterns of where earthquakes occur, developing models that demonstrate the shaking, and designing structures that can withstand such temblors. Presenters for our fifth graders will be asked to speak about the properties of matter as students prepare to observe various materials and describe their differences, investigate how materials change when they are mixed together, recognize chemical reactions, and develop models of matter. The topic for sixth graders is thermal energy. Guest speakers would be asked to give an introduction to the idea that temperature measures the average kinetic energy of the particles that make up matter, as well as the transfer of energy from hot to cold materials, and the factors that impact how much an object’s temperature will change.
We are thankful to already have several experts from UC Merced on board for these events, but there are still plenty of openings. Anyone who is interested in volunteering can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We know this community is filled with bright, caring, and generous individuals, and we look forward to working with many more of you as we continue to our mission to help all students succeed.
Sara Sandrik, an Emmy Award-winning former journalist, is the public information officer for the Merced City School District. She can be reached at email@example.com.