Sci-Trek: The Next Generation

Sci-Trek: The Next Generation

Engineering and science expo reaches out to tomorrow's tech builders

By Sara Cardine 05/17/2012

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No one knows exactly where the next generation of innovators in science, math and engineering will come from, but there’s a good chance at least a few will be in Pasadena this Saturday for the Engineering and Science Expo. The event, hosted at Pasadena City College, is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is presented by the Pasadena Educational Foundation (PEF).   
What began three years ago as a robotics competition for middle school students has morphed into a mind meld among the area’s leading math, science and engineering firms, educators and local organizations with a science and learning focus. Educational information from several PCC departments and Pasadena Unified School District’s College and Career Pathways program will also be available.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., an Innovations and Opportunities Fair gives participants a chance to engage in hands-on engineering and math workshops. Pasadena business incubator Idealab will host a station where attendants can build and take home their own LED spiders. The Gardena-based nonprofit Trash for Teaching, which repurposes packing materials discarded by businesses into educational building materials, will lead a station that encourages students to build and create.

“There are so many companies based here — we wanted to give them a day to come and show off their cool stuff,” said Phyllis Fash, a PEF office manager and organizer for the event. “This is for the next generation of engineers and scientists. It’s a way to connect them to people who are doing it now.”

At 3 p.m., the action shifts to PCC’s Hutto-Patterson Gym, where hundreds of local middle school students will compete in a race to build and program LEGO robots to solve challenges in a timed contest. Parents and adults can try their hand at programming similar robots in a special exhibit during the competition to see how their skills hold up, but Fash has got her money on the kids.

“They took robotic classes as part of their actual class schedule,” she said. “They spend the whole school year learning how to program these robots. But I’m curious to see how the parents do.”
The 2012 Pasadena Engineering and Science Expo will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Pasadena City College, 1570 E. Colorado Blvd. Free and open to the public. For more information, visit stemx.org or call (626) 396-3600, ext. 78727.

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