Looking for a low-cost weekend that involves launching trash cans, making “elephant toothpaste” and melting gummy bears?
Then spend the morning at the first annual Air Force Research Lab Super STEM Science Demonstrations, hosted by Innovate ABQ at the Lobo Rainforest Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.
Matthew Fetrow, who leads technology outreach at AFRL told the Daily Lobo that this family-friendly event will have enough science to go around.
“We just want to show the community the fun stuff we’re doing at AFRL, build engagement (with) what we’re doing with science,” he said.
The demonstration is free to attend. It includes over 50 science, technology, engineering and mathematics demonstrations, as well as an appearance from “Science Bob” Pflugfelder, who is a frequent guest on late night shows like Jimmy Kimmel.
The demonstrations are an after-party of an award show hosted Friday evening called the “STEMys.” AFRL will highlight local researchers, innovators, K-12 students and teachers and their achievements in science fields. AFRL will host the demonstrations Saturday with help from partners, including labs and universities from across the state.
Jewel Meyer-Hagen, a senior majoring in chemistry and president of the University of New Mexico’s Chemistry Club, will assist with demonstrations with 16 other UNM Chemistry Club students.
“It’s always fun,” Meyer-Hagen said. “It’s something that gets everyone involved and sparks interest in science and mathematics.”
Meyer-Hagen said the UNM Chemistry Club has done demonstrations across the state from regional science fairs to Explora Adult Night.
Demonstrations offer children the chance to get excited about science and for college students to explore their future options, she said.
“It’s also a great way for people to see what’s outside the University,” Meyer-Hagen said. “Students can get really caught up what they’re doing in classes, but this brings in people from AFRL, Sandia. It’s a great opportunity.”
Morgan Wilt, a communications major at UNM and AFRL employee, said the public will have the opportunity to interact with AFRL researchers and hands-on experiments. The event is also meant to raise awareness about STEM’s importance to New Mexico.
“We are a goldmine of science education, even if we’re not recognized all the time,” Wilt said.
New Mexico is home to three national labs: Sandia, Los Alamos and AFRL. Other STEM locations include the Lovelace Respiratory Research Lab both in Albuquerque and White Sands Missile Range in southern New Mexico. According to a 2016 Legislative Finance Committee Report, STEM industries have created 65 percent of jobs in New Mexico since the 2008 recession.
Lisa Whalen, the faculty advisor for the UNM Chemistry Club, said the event will be a blast and wanted to let patrons know what they were in for.
“Be prepared for loud noises, bright lights and street parking,” Waylen said.
Danielle Prokop is a freelance reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ProkopDani.