UCCS went full “STEAM” to host Cool Science Festival

Crystal Vander Zanden, Assistant Professor of Chemistry & Biochemistry at UCCS, shows K-12 students how to perform enzyme experiments at the 2021 Cool Science Festival.

In support of STEAM — science, technology, engineering, arts and math education — UCCS and Cool Science paired together for several exciting events during the 2021 Colorado Springs Cool Science Festival, held Oct. 9–17 across Colorado Springs.

Todd Bredbenner, Assistant Professor of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering, demonstrates musculoskeletal biomechanics.

Cool Science is a local nonprofit all about making science cool for kids, just like music, art or sports. Cool Science volunteers support the nonprofit’s goals by bringing a wide variety of fun and engaging hands-on science activities year-round to schools, libraries, and other public venues throughout eastern Colorado.

Since the UCCS core values include a commitment to education, collaboration and teamwork, involvement in the Cool Science Festival was a perfect opportunity for both organizations.

As always, the festival kicked off on Saturday, Oct. 9 with the Cool Science Carnival Day for Kids at UCCS. Numerous demonstration shows, laboratory tours and demos, rockets, drones, animals, and lots of other hands-on STEAM activities and exhibits for kids and their families took place across the campus. UCCS Event Services’ Shannon Rogers and her staff were key in ensuring the events at UCCS were organized and went smoothly.

Several UCCS departments and student groups participated in the event, listed below.

College of Engineering and Applied Science

Topics and activities included:

  • Cybersecurity
    • Learn binary code and cybersecurity
  • Electrical and Computer Engineering
    • Introduction to self-driving cars
    • Student robotics projects
  • Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
    • Aerodynamics with paper airplanes and flight simulators
    • Foucault Pendulum — What does this giant pendulum do?
    • Musculoskeletal biomechanics — Biomechanics of bone fractures
    • Machine Shop — Tours of the shop, 3D printers and a penny catapult activity

College of Letters, Arts & Sciences

  • Biology Mooney Lab
    • Insectapalooza! — A celebration of all things creepy-crawly
  • Chemistry and Biochemistry
    • Experiments with enzymes from saliva that help break down your food
  • Cognitive Development Lab
    • Memory games
  • Natural History Museum
    • Skulls, skeletons and preserved animals
    • Owl pellet dissection
  • Physics
    • Rock and roll band
  • Technical Communication and Information Design
    • Why are some phone apps great and others terrible?

College of Nursing and Health Sciences

  • Beth-El Johnson Simulation Learning Center
    • Giving lifelike robotic manikins a shot
    • Driving a telepresence robot through a hospital room

Pre-Collegiate Support and Success Center

  • Food activities
    • Ice cream in a bag and makey-makey veggies

Student clubs

  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
    • Rockets, rockets, rockets!
  • American Society of Mechanical Engineers
    • Introduction to computer-aided design
  • Drone Club
    • Learn what makes drones fly
  • High Altitude Race Engineering
    • UCCS students’ own electric race car
  • Hyperfalcos
    • Magnetic levitation pod
  • National Society of Leadership and Success
    • Spaghetti tower marshmallow design
  • oSTEM at UCCS
    • DaVinci bridges

The festival also included over 50 additional events hosted throughout southern Colorado. UCCS also hosted two of those events on campus.

Kraemer Family Library and Department of English

The UCCS Kraemer Family Library co-sponsored an event in which Helen Davies, Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities, presented on using multispectral imaging to recover old, lost and illegible texts. She had a small collection of old documents on hand to show the before and after of the physical vs digital objects. A group of students presented their own projects in which they recovered a diary showing the journey from Ireland to Ellis Island, one of the earliest law codes in Colorado and some medieval manuscripts.

Cybersecurity Programs

Cybersecurity touches many aspects of our daily lives, so we should start learning about cybersecurity at any age. Cybersecurity Programs at UCCS provided an opportunity for both parents and students to learn about programs, online training, cyber games and opportunities available for K-12 students. Attendees learned how to support their student in learning more about cybersecurity while also increasing own their awareness and knowledge.

If you would like to learn more about Cool Science and volunteer opportunities, contact Lynnane George, Senior Instructor, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UCCS.

About the Author

Lynnane George is a Senior Instructor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UCCS.