The L.A. Clippers showed the youth of Los Angeles how exciting STEM could be with their first ever Clippers Scifest SoCal science festival. The Clippers partnered with the USA Science and Engineering Festival, an organization who hosts the largest science festival in the country in Washington D.C.
“Most of the kids have never seen anything like this and the science and the technology we showcased [in the festival],” said Clippers Scifest SoCal executive director Marc Schulman. “The amount of kids that’s never even seen an astrophysicist let alone know what they do on a daily basis, that’s huge. Simply by showing kids who those folks are, that’s half of what we do.”
The Clippers Scifest SoCal was a two-day event with over 40 booths displaying various types of science, including animal life, aerospace technology, robotics, and chemical and natural sciences. Microsoft, the EcoVivarium Living Museum, The LAPD Forensic science Division and the Los Angeles City College STEM Academy are some of the many organizations at the Scifest.
The Raytheon booth featured nitrogen-cooled popcorn via Nitro Pop catering along with teaching participants about their various satellites. They allowed kids to create and shoot out straw rockets.
“For the kids, it’s cool; you kind of see some chemistry in action,” said Nitro Pop creator Jason Shah. “So it’s actually liquid nitrogen, so it’s roughly -350 degrees, so it kind of conducts with the popcorn very fast.”
There was also a panel of women scientists and engineers from Raytheon who talked about their work experience and passion for STEM.
“We just talk about it in terms of innovation and technology and capabilities,” said James Jackson, the communications specialist at Raytheon’s Space and Airborne Systems. “It’s really about problem-solving through STEM.”
NASA showed a replica of the space rover that was sent to Mars and explained the Europa Clipper, a project they are currently working in to investigate one of Jupiter’s moons Europa.
“This mission, in the development stages, and it will launch in 2023, it won’t get there for years after that,” said Tina Ray, who has been working at NASA’s jet propulsion laboratory for 30 years. “I just love talking about science because I don’t think so many people understand it.”
LAPD displayed an electric police car that would help lower the cost of maintenance and allow the department to use them for longer periods of time.
“As an agency and as a city, we would love to go full electric,” said LAPD senior lead officer Javier Barragan. “Unfortunately, the technology hasn’t gotten to the point where we can go to that and it happens to do with mileage.”
Kids were able to participate in a Math Hoops tournament, the basketball-themed board game that requires math and probability skills for players to win.
“We were supposed to roll the dice and whatever numbers turn out, we had to write, multiply, division, stuff like that,” said Miley Diaz, 10, who won the math hoops tournament. “I felt really scared at first, but then we won our first three wins.”
Clippers Scifest SoCal brought together children from different walks of life to learn STEM through teamwork, creativity and fascinating demonstrations.
“How could they not?” Schulman said. “This is the greatest playground you could ever create.”