TSTC hosts first chemistry community event

(HARLINGEN) – Eight-year-old Leonard Fuller experimented with sublimation bubbles – converted from a solid to a gas – during Texas State Technical College’s first “Chemistry is Out of This World” event recently held at the Wellness and Sports Center.

“Getting to create my own bubbles using dry ice and watching them grow on their own has been my favorite,” said Fuller. “But creating my chemical base to launch my own rocket was fun too. It’s hard to choose.”

The homeschooled student said he enjoys studying science and chemistry. He hopes to become a scientist when he grows up.

The event hosted by TSTC’s Challenger Learning Center and Chemical Technology was a half-day event filled with hands-on activities for families with a goal of exposing  young children to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs and careers.

TSTC Chemistry Event

Activities such as building a battery, molecule creation, bubble sublimation, HoloChemistry mixed reality, rocket reactions and planetarium shows were only a few that the more than 100 attendees got to enjoy.

“With STEM education being a priority in all schools and grade levels, we want to plant the seed early and expose students to these amazing fields and the opportunities they can provide,” said Yvette Mendoza, TSTC college readiness coordinator. “And there’s no better way to do that than to make learning fun.”

For Lola Mejia from Girl Scout troop 1065, the rocket reactions activity launched her interest in chemistry.

“My rocket went over the bleachers, it was the best,” said Mejia. “I love baking, but now I love chemistry and science too. I have a lot to think about.”

The 11-year-old now has two possible career choices.

“Chemistry is Out of This World” was made possible by a grant the TSTC Challenger Learning Center received from the National Informal STEM Education Network, a community comprised of informal educators and scientists dedicated to supporting learning about STEM across the United States, provided all of the supplies necessary for the hands-on activities.

“This is the first time we receive this grant and we are so appreciative and grateful to be able to give our community this type of opportunity,” said Mendoza. “And the interest we have seen

from school districts, teachers and the community is immeasurable.”

Mendoza said this event and the services the Challenger Learning Center offers throughout the year are aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, state curriculum standards set forth for public schools K-12.

TSTC Chemistry Event

Neri Balli, state director for pre-college programs, said the event was a success.

“We had a great turn out and it was so much fun seeing how engaged and interested these children were,” said Balli. “Our center and these programs supplement what they are learning in the classroom. This is definitely the first of many community engagement events we hope to host in the future.”

The next community engagement event “Journey to Mars,” will be held December 1 at the TSTC Cultural Arts Center, in partnership with a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) cooperative.

This event will celebrate NASA’s 60th anniversary and the TSTC’s Challenger Learning Center’s fifth anniversary.

The event is free and open to the public and will consist of toddler and school-aged children activities such as rover building, computer coding, Mars habitat drawings with three-dimensional pens and rocket assembly.

For more information on the Challenger Learning Center and to register for Journey to Mars call 956-364-4125 or visit bit.ly/JourneyToMarsHarlingen.