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Golden Gate and San Jose at the Bay Area Science Festival!

I had the opportunity to join other ASHRAE members from the Golden Gate and San Jose Chapters to volunteer at the Bay Area Science Festival Discovery Day at the AT&T Park in San Francisco, California. Organized and led by the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), in collaboration with hundreds of the Bay Area’s premier science, cultural, and educational establishments, the 2018 Bay Area Science Festival offers a series of events over nine days all across the Bay Area.

This free event included dynamic demonstrations, engaging experiments, games and activities for all ages. It included hundreds of hands-on activities, opportunities to meet local scientists and engineers. The entire ballpark was packed with science content: on the field, at every entry/exit, and every level of the ballpark.

Our ASHRAE Booth was located inside the ballpark on the Clubhouse level, in a very heavily trafficked area. The booth cost was $500, which was split between the two Chapters. The hours of operation were from 11:00 am to 4:30 pm. For our demonstration we utilized ASHRAE’s Pressure Drop STEM kit activity, but with biodegradable straws and edible soap. We also had a bubble blowing machine set up to blow bubbles, which helped attract students to our booth.

Students were given a single straw and a cup with soapy water in it and asked to see how difficult it was to blow bubbles with the straw and have them reach the top of the cup. This was a very simple task and the students had a lot of fun blowing bubbles. After accomplishing the task with a single straw, we had the students try again, but this time using a much longer straw (one, which we nicknamed “mega straw” was over 10 feet in length). The students would again try to blow bubbles and have them reach the top of the cup. This was very fun for them and sort of a competition to see how quickly they could reach the top of the cup. We would ask the students which method was harder, and the response was that the longer straw was more difficult. We asked the students why they thought this was more difficult and the general response was that the straw was longer. We discussed friction and pressure drop and energy and then tied it into what we do as HVAC engineers when we design ductwork systems.

We tracked how many students we interacted with via a counter and ended up with a total of 312! The students all seemed to have a good time with the pressure drop experiment and it seemed like the concept of ductwork and energy efficiency was understood by most of them. We had a total of around 15 volunteers from both Chapters, taking shifts of ~2 hours. I volunteered for the entire day but took an hour to walk around to visit the other booths in the festival. I was impressed with how well organized the event was and how high the attendance was. This was a perfect event for these Chapters to participate in, especially by involving multiple ASHRAE members and Chapter officers. Both Chapters plan on participating again next year.

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