Azusa Pacific hosts annual STEM day for Southern California students

On Feb. 2, Azusa Pacific hosted the sixth annual STEM day for first-12th grade students to learn about science, technology, engineering and math through different workshops.

Hosted by the University Libraries’ Educational Programming and the Center for Research in Science (CRIS), this year’s theme was “Deciphering the Secrets of STEM.” More than 500 students took on the role of investigators and secret agents as they learned about STEM from APU professors and student volunteers.

Until last year, the program was exclusive to the Boy Scouts of America. As of 2018, the program was opened up to the Girl Scouts and all students in first through 12th grades.

Experts from the San Gabriel Mountains Regional Conservancy, the RailGiants Train Museum and Barnabas Robotics also contributed their knowledge and resources to STEM day, according to APU’s website.

The purpose of STEM day is to inspire kids and get them interested about STEM by showing them what they can accomplish in an exciting, hands-on way. According to a media release from the university, “The U.S. Department of Education sees STEM education as a top priority and states that all students should have the chance to study and be inspired by science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and to reach their full potential … Economic projections point to a need for approximately 1 million more STEM professionals than the U.S. will produce at the current rate over the next decade.”

Classes offered this year included advanced inventions for the field, engineering for agents 101, robotics for sleuths, classified digital film, confidential chemistry, enigma of electricity, mammal mysteries and top-secret nuclear handling.

Video production manager Karl Morgan facilitated the digital video workshop for the past few years on STEM day. This is the first time he ran this program in the new Convergent Media Center, which opened in fall 2018.

“Since we have this new state-of-the-art media center, this is the first year we’re able to utilize it,” Morgan said. “So we brought the kids in here to show them what’s in the room, the different things with video production and how they can do podcasts. Then we had them shoot the video, and then we had them do some editing of that video so they were able to create a small video clip of the skit that they did.”

Jaime Wood, a junior cinematic arts major, who volunteered at STEM day, said that when the students first flooded into the control room in Darling Library, it was a bit overwhelming. The students were eager to learn, though, and listened attentively to her tour of the control room.

“We showed them what we do to film events, whether it’s chapel or sports, and showed them the layout of the control room,” Wood said.

Marcus Fernandez, a sophomore business major, said that one of the purposes of the event is to give students a basic understanding of a field they’re interested in.

“In the Convergent Media Center, we showed them how to do editing, set up a camera to help them film their skits, and gave them a basic overview of the fishbowl studio in the media center and showed them how to use it for broadcasting,” Fernandez said. “So now, if they’re still interested and if they ever want to learn more about these things in the future, they have a basic knowledge of what to do.”

Sixth-grader Tatiana Espitia got to live her dream when she attended the digital video class at STEM day for the first time.

“I’ve always had fun editing and photoshopping things, so [when I heard about this class at STEM day], I thought it would be really fun, and it is,” Espitia said. “I’ve always wanted to be a film director or video editor.”

Seventh-grader Michael de Vos said he knew exactly what he will do with his new knowledge of digital video.

“I skate, so now that I know how to make videos, I’m going to use it to make videos of me trying out new skating tricks,” de Vos said. “The best part about video is that you get to make whatever you want. The possibilities are endless.”