First Family STEM Day at Henry Ford College By Katherine Warden

The Henry Ford College School of Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) hosted their very first Family STEM Day. Photo by Katherine Warden

Henry Ford College held its first ever Family STEM Day on Saturday, April 13. The event was open for all ages to experience the wonders of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

Held in the college’s Science Building, visitors were greeted by Henry Ford College professor of physics and astronomy, Jesse Mason, and his solar telescope where they could see a clear image of the sun. Mason gave a short presentation, explaining what the telescope was showing viewers. Mason said, “The hope is that we are igniting the fires of curiosity in young people in the community, that they may consider a career in STEM someday.”

After Mason’s introduction, families entered the building to find their names from the Periodic Table of Elements, with each family being assigned a specific element and its corresponding number. These numbers were part of a randomized give-away for a telescope during lunch.

The families were then allowed to pick from the various open activities, such as face painting, viewing various science displays, participating in a variety of games and activities, including a “Solar Walk” and “What are the Chances.” The “Solar Walk” was an open activity that ran all-day, where families could make a paper scale of the solar system. “What are the Chances” involved attendees walking to different stations to learn about how to break down math equations to make them easier to understand.

Every half-hour, six different activities rotated to allow visitors to explore the different aspects of STEM in a variety of ways. “Super Microscopers” allowed attendees to utilize microscopes and view different specimens, such as a lamb’s brain. “Barf Detectives” involved dissecting an owl pellet. With “Autonomous Robots,” attendees could program robotic cars to follow specific paths and see how each program could change how the car drives. “Musical Physics” showed how sound waves are created and their effects in a visual manner. “Food Chemistry” explored pH levels of everyday food and how food and drinks affect our teeth and bodies.

Two of the main attractions were the HFC Planetarium and the virtual cadaver. The Planetarium ran a show which showcased the solar system, and “Adventures in Anatomy” displayed the human body and all of its layers in a virtual space.

“This is awesome; they’re learning so much,” said Raeanna Delfine, who brought her two children, “They’re getting to explore different things that we really don’t get to at home.”

Every session was led by a mix of HFC faculty and students from the STEM department. “It feels that it’s really awesome that we get to connect with youth,” said Abeer Alhassan, a student who was there to help with the event. Family STEM Day didn’t just give families the opportunity to experience STEM in new ways, but it also gave students the opportunity to practice teaching what they’re learning at HFC to the next generation.