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Lego Derby Kicks Off Science After Dark’s 2014-2015 Season

Published on September 17, 2014, by

lego-derbyOn September 10, the banquet room at Marie Callender’s in Pismo Beach was full of kids and their parents building and racing cars made of Legos at the inaugural event of the 2014/2015 season of Science After Dark.  In its third year, Science After Dark is a series of monthly events presented by the Central Coast STEM Collaborative (CCSTEM).  STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and math in the world of education.

For all the photos, visit the Science After Dark Facebook page.

Dubbed “Lego Derby,” the public was invited to put their minds to the test and design a vehicle to try out on the official pinewood derby track, complete with precision speed sensors, provided by SLO MakerSpace. There were thousands of Lego bricks and specialty pieces, along with wheel and axle subassemblies made of zinc for added weight and speed.

Some participants chose to forego the speed competition and be a bit more imaginative. Several cars had multiple stories, and some utilized green technology by growing plants on the roof! All cars were winners, and there was a drawing among the attendees for Lego-themed prizes; the grand prize being four LEGOLAND resort hopper tickets, donated by the amusement park.

Science After Dark was originally created to promote CCSTEM and to provide an opportunity for adults to learn about science from experts in a relaxed, informal setting. The majority of events this season will be held at Luis Wine Bar, an over age 21 establishment in San Luis Obispo. The program expands to Santa Maria in December with a presentation hosted by Mission Hope Cancer Center (including dinner) on the science of radiation therapy, and to Pismo Beach in February with a Valentine’s theme dinner and presentation on the science and romance of diamonds at Scotty’s Bar and Grill. The next “kid-oriented” event will be in June at the San Luis Obispo Children’s Museum featuring a talk by a Cal Poly marine scientist on a year in the life of a shark. Check our website at www.ccstem.org and click on Science After Dark for a detailed schedule, or “like” us on facebook at ScienceAfterDark/SLO.

Dawn Hinchman, Coordinator of Science After Dark and CCSTEM board member, explained that CCSTEM is a regional affiliate of the California STEM Learning Network (CSLNet). The statewide network was created in 2011 to advance STEM teaching and learning in local communities. All of tomorrow’s workers will need the analytical, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills that STEM subjects impart. CCSTEM is committed to enhancing and promoting STEM learning and developing career readiness in San Luis Obispo and Northern Santa Barbara Counties by fostering the collective impact of local, state, and national stakeholders. Members of CCSTEM currently serve on the leadership committee for the countywide CA Math and Science Partnership grant, the CSLNet Advisory Board,  the Business and Youth Councils of the San Luis Obispo County Workforce Investment Board, and on county committees to provide professional development to teachers in the roll out of Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards initiatives.

If you have an interest in science and technology and would like to learn more about the Central Coast STEM Collaborative, the group is having a reception at Steynberg Gallery on October 15 at 6:30pm to introduce prospective members to the current board and review ongoing activities. Refreshments will be provided.


Student Robotics Expo 2014

Published on September 5, 2014, by

Date: Monday, September 29, 2014
Time: 6:00-8:00 pm
Location: Elks Club, 222 Elks Lane, SLO
Cost: FREE!
Register: At Softec.org (Adults requested to register, but not required)
Food/drink: Complimentary coffee, water; desserts and other beverages available for purchase from student teams as fundraisers.

Softec presents this annual Expo event–unique on the Central Coast–as reward and recognition to the student robotics community, to allow them to interchange friendship and ideas, and also to help excite young minds about robotics and possibly future technology careers. Here your kids can see all the opportunities for THEM to get involved.

There will be no speeches or presentations – just the opportunity to walk around and talk to the local robotics teams, students from local universities, and from the local branches of international robotics companies–AND see all their fascinating creations. It is ideal for the whole family! Attendance has doubled each year, last year was 350+, so make sure to GET THERE EARLY!


Saturday Scientists – Worms!

Published on August 19, 2014, by

Morro Bay Natural History Museum Auditorium
Saturday, September 6, 2014

Explore the fascinating world of worms found in soil, water, our pets, and sometimes our bodies. Learn to use a dissecting microscope to see these creatures in their wiggling wonder!

Flier (English and Spanish)


Science After Dark 2014-2015

Published on July 27, 2014, by

Join us this year for Science After Dark! Mark your calendars ASAP; here’s the preliminary schedule for 2014-2015:

September 10, 6:30pm, Lego Derby, Marie Callender’s, 2131 Price St., Pismo Beach, $5, Small groups design model based on theme to include lego derby car to race on official pinewood derby track provided by SLO MakerSpace. Wheels and axles provided.

October 8, 6:30pm, Bio-Medical Engineering, Cal Poly professor Robert Crockett, PhD, Luis Wine Bar, 1021 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo, $5

November 12, 6:30pm, Science of Wine & Cheese, Cal Poly professors Rafael Jimenez-Flores, PhD and Marianne Wolf, PhD, Luis Wine Bar, 1021 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo, $5

December 10, 6pm, Science of Radiation Therapy, Case Ketting, MD and Kenneth Reg, Therapist, located at and free, light dinner provided by Mission Hope Cancer Center, 1325 E. Church St., Santa Maria

January 14, TBD

February 11, 6:30pm, Science and Romance of Diamonds for Valentines, Jamie Foster, Gemologist, Scotty’s Bar and Grill, 750 Price St., Pismo Beach, price TBD, Choice of entrée dinner, reservation required, pay in advance

March 11, TBD

April 8, 6:30pm, Science of Bio-Technology and tissue engineering, Jennifer Zihla, Lab Research Associate, Luis Wine Bar, 1021 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo, $5

May 13, 6:30pm, Citizen Astronomy, Cal Poly professor John Keller, PhD, Luis Wine Bar, 1021 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo, $5

June 10, 6:30pm, A Year in the Life of a Shark – Marine Science, speaker TBD, SLO Children’s Museum, 1010 Nipomo St., SLO, $5, Includes audience presentations, family, children oriented.


Central Coast New Tech High School (PG&E article/video)

Published on July 25, 2014, by

Two years ago, PG&E President Chris Johns joined school officials in breaking ground for Central Coast New Tech High School.

It was little more than a vacant dirt lot in the San Luis Obispo County city of Nipomo at the time. But, armed with a $250,000 PG&E grant, there were big plans for an innovative center for learning.

Student Ross Kesselring said the hands-on learning at New Tech High school keeps him interested.

Today, the New Tech campus — in the Lucia Mar Unified School District — is bustling with activity. And any one of the roughly 200 students will tell you their school — with its focus on hands-on learning using cutting-edge technology — is the best.

“At a traditional school, the focus is only on how much the student knows about a subject, while here, we focus on getting skills while working on a project,” said Ross Kesselring, a student at the school.

See the PG&E Currents article for more information and a video.