Creating Stars and Extracting DNA from Strawberries at UC Riverside

Bourns College of Engineering hosts more than 600 students for engineering day

Students with balloons during Bourns Engineering Day

Students participate during Bourns Engineering Day.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. ( — More than 600 students from throughout the Inland Empire and Orange County participated in the 10th annual Bourns Engineering Day, hosted April 6 at the University of California, Riverside by the university’s chapter of the Society of Women Engineers.

Bourns Engineering Day is an all-day event packed with hands-on activities, lab tours, and speakers. This year the focus was chemical and environmental engineering. The theme was “Innovation for the Earth.”

Students taking part in an activity at Bourns Engineering Day.

Students taking part in an activity at Bourns Engineering Day.

Activities, which were geared towards promoting sustainability for the earth, ranged from Strawberry DNA extraction to allowing the participants to play with non-Newtonian fluids. A favorite every year is the planetarium, where participants can enter a makeshift planetarium and create their own stars by using a pencil to poke holes. Other activities that focused more closely on this year’s theme included a filter station that showed the kids how water goes through media filtration, similar to water treatment plants.

In addition to the activities, the students listened to keynote speaker, Pamela Clute, a UC Riverside mathematics educator and assistant vice chancellor of educational and community engagement, speak about the importance of STEM fields.

The event drew about 600 participants and 400 parents. Participants came from the local school districts, including Riverside, Moreno Valley, San Bernardino, Redlands, and Colton. There were also many Girl Scouts from the San Gorgonio and Orange County councils.

The high school- and college-age participants focused more on engineering at the university level with student panels and lab tours. The younger students had more time to discover engineering through hands-on activities such as Amazing Milk, where children discovered the polar and non-polar properties of milk and soap.

The participants were helped by 120 volunteers from engineering clubs and engineering majors and the community.

The event was made possible by the support of the Bourns Foundation, and additional support and sponsorships from Exxon Mobil, SWE Program Development Grants, ASUCR, Northrop Grumman, RAS, and Girl Scouts of San Gorgonio Council.

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