Science in the Park fair in Hayward ‘brings science to the community’

Sofia Medina cautiously reached out for the yellow and black ball python drawing a crowd around the science fair booth at California State University, East Bay campus. The python master assured the 7th grader that his scales would be dry to the touch, explaining to the families gathered there that unlike humans, most snakes have no oil on their skin.

“I was really nervous – It was good though!” said Medina, who is from Hayward. She learned that “there is no reason for the snake to bite you if it is not threatened”.

Students like Medina came from the Bay Area to the Science in the Park fair in Hayward on Saturday. Alameda County Supervisor Richard Valle was heartened to see the dozens of exhibits set up on the CSUEB campus after the biannual event, originally launched in Union City in 1997, has been suspended due to the pandemic.

“The whole concept is to bring the science to the community,” Valle said. “You come away with a lot of knowledge and an understanding of how science works.”

  • HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 1: Classroom Safari’s Leonard Page shows off Dartgator, an alligator to visitors during the Science in the Park fair at Cal State East Bay in Hayward, California on Saturday, October 1, 2022. The expo- science featured educational activities in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 1: Ahmadull Habibi, 7, left, and...

    HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 1: Ahmadull Habibi, 7, left, and his sister Bibi Zainab Habibi, 9, stand still as Sterling Johnson of Sterling Bubbles covers their bodies with a giant bubble during the Science in the Fair Park at Cal State East Bay in Hayward, Calif. on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. The science fair event included educational activities in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 1: Ahmadull Habibi, 7, left, and...

    HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 1: Ahmadull Habibi, 7, left, and his sister Bibi Zainab Habibi, 9, react as a giant bubble made by Sterling Johnson of Sterling Bubbles appears during the Science in the Park fair in Cal State East Bay in Hayward, California on Saturday, October 1, 2022. The science fair event included educational activities in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 1: Veeraj Tare, 7, of Fremont,...

    HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 1: Veeraj Tare, 7, of Fremont, watches the flight of the paper rocket he made during the Science in the Park fair at Cal State East Bay in Hayward, Calif., on Saturday October 1, 2022 The science fair featured educational activities in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 1: Veeraj Tare, 7, of Fremont,...

    HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 1: Veeraj Tare, 7, of Fremont prepares to launch his paper rocket during the Science in the Park fair at Cal State East Bay in Hayward, California on Saturday, October 1, 2022. The science the event featured educational activities in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 1: Firefighter Justin McReynolds of Hayward...

    HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 1: Firefighter Justin McReynolds of the Hayward Fire Department drops an egg into a recyclable plastic bottle filled with pillows with a parachute attached during the 60-foot egg drop from a ladder engine as part of Science in the Park Fair at Cal State East Bay in Hayward, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. The egg, which was from Hayward participant Autumn Bernal, 6, survived the fall . The science fair event included educational activities in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 1: Firefighter Justin McReynolds of Hayward...

    HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 1: Firefighter Justin McReynolds of the Hayward Fire Department drops an egg into a recyclable plastic bottle filled with pillows with a parachute attached during the 60-foot egg drop from a ladder engine as part of Science in the Park Fair at Cal State East Bay in Hayward, Calif., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. The egg, which was from Hayward participant Autumn Bernal, 6, survived the fall . The science fair event included educational activities in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 1: Edward Bernal, left, is all...

    HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 1: Edward Bernal, left, is all smiles after his child Autumn Bernal, 6, gave him a high-five with an egg that survived the 60-foot egg drop a Hayward Fire Department engine ladder during Science at the Park Fair at Cal State East Bay in Hayward, Calif. on Saturday, October 1, 2022. The egg was inside a plastic bottle recyclable filled with pillows with a parachute attached. The science fair event included educational activities in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 1: Ajeet Cheema, 5, of Union...

    HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 1: Ajeet Cheema, 5, of Union City enjoys the bouncing house during the Science in the Park fair at Cal State East Bay in Hayward, California on Saturday, October 1, 2022. The science fair the event featured educational activities in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

  • HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 1: Children play in the inflatable...

    HAYWARD, CALIFORNIA – OCTOBER 1: Children play in the inflatable jumpers while parents wait for them outside during the Science in the Park fair at Cal State East Bay in Hayward, California on Saturday, October 1, 2022. The science fair event featured educational activities in science, technology, engineering, arts and math. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

In recent years, officials have placed greater emphasis on teaching science, technology, engineering and math in schools as American students, especially those of color, have lagged behind many of their international counterparts in STEM literacy.

Attendees at Saturday’s event included volunteers from public agencies and nonprofit educational organizations such as the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland.

Soni Johnson, Community Development Coordinator with the Alameda County Healthy Homes Department, distributed small potted plants that students can grow at home. The goal was to raise awareness about potential soil contamination from lead in parts of the county that have many older homes. The students were encouraged to grow the plants in raised beds or plant them in pots to avoid soil contamination.

“They’re really interested in information and the science of everything,” Johnson said.

Anna Dix, an engineer from Castro Valley, brought her 8-year-old son, Nico, to the fair to help spark an interest in learning science.

“I just explored all the different types of science that are out there,” Dix said. “There are so many stalls, so many activities to touch, feel and do.”

Advick Malhodra, a 5th grader from Fremont, set up his own “science lab” booth at the fair. He showed a mini hydraulic crane and a lego rocket launcher that he built himself.

Malhodra said he also loves math and coding and wants to be a computer engineer when she grows up.

His favorite thing in science?

“It’s pretty amazing when you learn things,” Malhodra said. “It’s pretty awesome when you do experiments like volcanoes and fireworks.”

Sam D. Gomez