Exploration-U: Community Science Night

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Large-scale community science programs and events that focus on innovative, hands-on science activities led by collaborations between Penn State faculty and students, local school district administrators, teachers, and students, and community businesses and partners.

Next upcoming event: Exploration-U at Bellefonte Area High School on Nov. 10th, 2016 from 6:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m.

Fun for all ages, no registration required, free admission and parking!

Exploration-U: Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle Family Science Night is a free, community based program with the goal of promoting community and family support of STEM education in local schools. Penn State graduate students, undergraduates, faculty, and the Science Outreach office collaborate with administrators, teachers, and students at Bald Eagle Area to bring exciting hands-on activities to the general public. This is the second year that Penn State Science Outreach has collaborated with Bald Eagle Area on a family science night and it was equally as successful as our other local events!

Exploration-U: Bellefonte

State College Family Science Night exhibitor presenting an experiment using a hot air balloon to explain thermal expansion.

Bellefonte Family Science Night is a community based program with the goal of promoting community and family support of STEM education in local schools. Penn State graduate students, undergraduates, faculty, and the office of Science Outreach bring hands-on activities to a local school for an evening presentation to the general public. Teachers and students from the school also participate and contribute activities. Family Science Night has been held for the Bellefonte Area School district since 2009. This annual event has reached thousands of elementary. middle school, and high school students and their families.  This is a specific target audience for the National Science Foundation’s broader impacts section. Response has been overwhelmingly positive to this program, with parent surveys stating nearly 100% would attend the event again, and over 90% would encourage their child to choose a career in science.

Exploration-U: State College

Formerly known as “Space Day” and “Bio Days,” Exploration-U: State College is a free, one-day event  for the general public in State College.

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In collaboration with State College area school district teachers and students who came to display work and interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), the Penn State faculty, undergraduate and graduate students showcase their research or general science topics with hands-on activities for families and children. Each year, over 600 people attend this 2 hour STEM extravaganza! Youth groups also attend, such as scouts, 4-H, and community organizations are invited to explore STEM fields.

Funds for this event originally came from NASA, which provided support for astronomy-themed presentations. However, this program is now funded through other means. These costs includes accommodating the planetarium and food.

Response for this event is always overwhelmingly positive, with numbers of participants growing each year. According to the 2009-10 survey results, 97% of participants said that Exploration Day increased their interest in STEM, and 91% said they learned about new STEM careers.

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PA Cyber Discovery Night

2016 was the first year for this collaboration and involved 6 Penn State students groups exhibiting engaging, hands-on science activities in the PA Cyber School's State College Office. Cyber school students taste tested liquid nitrogen ice cream, learned about helicopter motors and high-speed imaging, and made their own rain cloud! It was a successful night of STEM education!

Centre Hall-Potter Elementary Family Science Night

April 2016 is our first collaboration with an elementary Parent Teacher Group (PTG) as the partner on the school side. Centre Hall-Potter Elementary students are in for a fun night of STEM, branching out to areas like taxidermy and conservation, while being able to talk with experts from the PA Game Commission and DCNR.

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The cost of funding a single Family Science Night is generally covered through multiple small grants and in-kind donations from the school district. The Science Outreach office has partnered with local businesses, which provide monetary donations as well as door prizes and food for volunteers, in order to defray the cost of the event. Community partners or PSU students, staff, or faculty interested in participating in our family science nights, please contact the outreach office at sciencecamps@science.psu.edu. Teachers or administrators in local school districts who are interested in organizing a Family Science Night should contact Michael Zeman for further information.