APU celebrates STEM fields for a younger generation

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) and Center for Research in Science (CRIS) hosted their annual STEM day on Saturday. This year’s theme was “Shaping the Future of STEM: 2020 Visionaries,” which brought students from grades 6-12 to learn about STEM.

Students came from all over the greater San Gabriel Valley and included Boy and Girl Scouts who participated to earn merit badges.

STEM day began with check in at the Felix Event Center, where families were then directed to the Hall of Champions for a warm welcome by Robert Duke, Ph.D., dean of the School of Theology and interim dean of the CLAS.

“I am also here to be a fellow parent who is dropping off my 7th grade twin boys,” Duke said.

As Azusa Pacific celebrates Segerstrom Science Center’s 10th anniversary, faculty and APU students planned a day of classes with topics in robotics, chemistry, geology and engineering. These interactive classes provided younger students with an insight on each topic followed by a hands on activity. 

“We are intentional in showcasing what the STEM faculty and students do, hoping to give all glory and honor to God as we look forward to the next decade,” said Louise Huang, Ph.D, assistant dean of CLAS and director of CRIS.

Participants witnessed fluorescent chemical reactions and worked with standard lab equipment, which allowed them to work with some everyday samples. They also enjoyed collecting and identifying rocks from different areas around Segerstrom with the help of Bradley McCoy, Ph.D., and Beth McCoy, Ph.D.

“My favorite part from chemistry was watching the elephant toothpaste explode,” said Leah, a student participant.

STEM day has provided students the opportunity to engage directly with chemistry through experiments, robotics by assembling movements for a robotic car, and with engineering by building a tower with only specific given materials. 

APU faculty and student volunteers expressed their joy in serving students and encouraging them towards STEM careers.

“APU students play an integral role in this kind of outreach event, because they can show their community what Christian higher education is like,” Huang said.

Christian higher education was highly emphasized on STEM day. Serving communities and helping foster academic goals for the future leaders of STEM explains why these outreach events are created in the first place, according to participants.

“Having events like these is really useful because it gives students the options to not only learn but to choose what area they want to do for themselves, whether it be something with robotics or more technology,” said senior computer science major Kyle Cohen. 

The event was geared towards guiding students at an early age to pursue a possible area of interest they may be leaning towards. Younger students are invited annually to come and learn about the different areas in STEM and help with their ongoing curiosities about the world around us. 

“Shaping the future of STEM really means doing science,” said Beth McCoy. “The whole purpose is to investigate and discover what we can do and how things work.”