SciFest comes to Stanly Community College

Stanly Community College served as a host site for SciFest ‘24, an official North Carolina Science Festival event, presented by RTI International.

Since 2010, the North Carolina Science Festival (the first statewide science festival in the USA) has been hosted by schools, colleges, libraries, museums, parks and other local organizations throughout the state, with the goal of exhibiting science’s educational and economic impacts.

Zach Lowder holds “Blaze the Corn Snake.” (Photo by TOBY THORPE)

Focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM), the April 4 event was geared toward students in elementary and middle grades. Learning activities were primarily hands-on and facilitated by SCC faculty and student volunteers, who guided hands-on learning activities.

A station facilitated by Michael Lowder, department head of life and physical sciences at SCC, with assistance from son Zach, drew great interest from participants and parents alike. Featuring arachnids (spiders and scorpions) and reptiles (a corn snake, a king snake and a gecko), attendees were able to view, touch and hold the live creatures.

With assistance from facilitator Rita Love, students visiting the technology and engineering station were able to build automatons (basic simple machines) using popsicle sticks, cams, and card stock. Ashley Jones and son Greyson build an automaton with help from Love. (Photo by TOBY THORPE)

Chemistry stations provided opportunities for participants to create thermochromic slime (a pliable substance that changes color depending on the temperature), and to create self-inflating balloons using household materials.

A “Creative Room,” operated by SCC Early Childhood Program Director Cindie Osborne, provided participants an opportunity to create take-home projects, such as mini-airplanes. Other activities included virtual tours of the human body’s various systems and building of simple automatons (simple machines).

SCC Life and Physical Sciences Department Head Michael Lowder holds a whip scorpion. (Photo by TOBY THORPE)

“This is our third year post-COVID hosting a SciFest event,” said Lowder. “In addition to our own faculty and students, we are able to bring in specialists from the community to assist with the activities and enhance them with their expertise.”

A new component of the event for 2024 featured flowers grown at SCC. These included black-eyed susan and goldenrods, as well as cardinal flowers, coneflowers and sunflowers.

Native plants grown at SCC were available for SciFest participants to take home and replant. (Photo by TOBY THORPE)

“All our participants today are invited to take a plant home with them,” Lowder said. “We are excited to participate once again and to share the aspects of science, technology, engineering, arts and math with the entire community.”

Toby Thorpe is a freelance writer for The Stanly News & Press.