Northside Students Host STEM Day for the North Park Community
by Noah Liedtke
Northside’s resurrected STEM Day was held on Saturday, May 18, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Aimed at neighborhood kids and families, the building was open to the community for the day. The goal was to expose young students who may not know much about science, technology, engineering, and/or math to become interested in the subjects, or at least have fun learning about them for the day. The Stem Day Planning Committee, lead by Tazeena Khan, Adv. 904, and Sahiti Gangavarapu, Adv. 907, organized the event, and it was sponsored by Mr. Johan Tabora, Science department, and Dr. Ana Vites, Science department. Over 80 Northside students were present to carry out demonstrations and make sure the events ran smoothly.
As young students and their parents arrived, the first thing they were asked to do was register at the front desk in order for Northside to gauge how many people participated. They could then grab a brochure, which stated that STEM Day was “A family-friendly event where you can explore and learn about STEM concepts through fun, interactive demonstrations and engaging discussions.” Families could then choose to head either to the cafeteria, second floor atrium, third floor atrium, or outside to participate in different STEM activities, led by students.
In the cafeteria, the robotics team showcased their 2018 competition robot. They also had their iconic t-shirt cannon set up, which they demonstrated outside. Fermilab was also present in the cafeteria, where they demonstrated some of their technology, which included a gravity accelerator, gravity collider, and a linac accelerator. The lunchroom hallway also had presenters from science-related colloquiuae. Outside, many families waited to get a tour of NCP’s hoop house, lead by students in the Student Environmental Action Organization. Kids were also able to plant seeds at the hoop house if they chose to do so. There was also an engineering station set up outside, where kids could build water rockets.
On the second floor, there were many interactive presentations by Northside students that kids and families could take part in. The majority of these were chemistry-based and biology-based. Students could participate in experiments such as extracting DNA from a strawberry, or put objects through phase changes. There was even a station for aspiring doctors led by students in Mediclub, where kids could follow procedures that primary care physicians do.
The third floor contained even more stations, mostly focused on computer science and physics. Kids could learn about electricity, electromagnetism, and other physics principles by things as simple as playing with cars with magnets in them. Daniel Feng, Adv. 103, said “I really want to see physics being displayed at STEM Day so kids can enjoy learning about it.” One of the biggest draws, however, was the Maker’s Club, where families could watch a demonstration of Northside’s 3D Printer. There were limited tickets available due to high demand.
These demonstrations lasted until about 1:45 p.m, when keynote speaker Dr. Joel L. Voss of Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine presented “Tinkering with the Human Brain to Solve Memory.” Voss explained his laboratory’s efforts to alter the memory circuits in the human brain through electromagnetic fields, and the insights these experiments have gained on how the brain accomplishes memory. Voss also explained how these discoveries have informed and motivated new approaches for treating memory disorders such as Alzheimer’s.
When reflecting on the event, volunteer Asna Tauseef, Adv. 907, said “My experience at STEM day was amazing. Making elephant toothpaste [a reaction with yeast, soap, and food coloring] with many little kids was so much fun and seeing the awe on their faces as we did the experiment was great. I loved working with my group to show kids a fun a experiment that they could do themselves and I definitely want to do it again next year.”