Published June 18, 2019
Volume 3, Number 6

Livermore Science & Society Center Brings Science to All

Reins in Motion

By Hacienda Pulse Staff Writer

Livermore Science & Society Center (LSSC) was created to enhance scientific literacy in the greater Tri-Valley region by providing facilities and resources to advance science and related education for everyone. LSSC is a regional STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) nonprofit that plans to build a center in Livermore dedicated to families, educators, employers, and life-long learners.

“LSSC intends to integrate growth mindset principles to enhance brain development and instill confidence in the ability to learn,” says Alan Burnham, founder and Chief Financial Officer. “We will teach visitors how to think like a scientist to strengthen their problem-solving and decision-making skills in daily life. We will connect science to everyday life to cultivate career skills, inspire a future workforce, enhance personal well-being, and develop more capable, informed, and engaged citizens.”

For now, LSSC works with supportive organizations and events to showcase its pilot science programs. Last May hundreds of children and youth did experiments with LSSC’s new vertical wind tunnel exhibit and a water percolation apparatus at the Livermore Innovation Fair. The interactive wind tunnel exhibit included a space-capsule parachute experiment in tribute to the fair’s theme, Building for the Moon and Beyond.

Participants decorated parachutes and attached them to a toy space capsule, then watched the combination sink and float based on the wind velocity. The experiment demonstrated how density and size affect the wind speed needed to lift objects and blow them out of the tunnel. The science lesson was about balancing the forces of gravity and aerodynamic drag when moving in air, leading to the concept of terminal velocity.

The water percolation interactive experiments included measuring permeability by the time needed for water to drain through various sizes of rock and measuring porosity by the amount of water needed to fill pitchers of various sizes of marbles and gravel. The pilot outreach exhibits designed by LSSC have been and will continue to be used at science and innovation fairs, libraries, and classrooms across the region. More exhibits are under development. In March, for example, LSSC received a mini-grant from the Rotary Club of Livermore to develop an experiment on insulation with the Livermore Valley Unified School District. The experiment will demonstrate the value of insulating homes and of new compostable insulating materials that can be used for shipping cold items.

“We have an extraordinary group of volunteer professional scientists and engineers actively designing, building, and fielding exhibits to advance interest and understanding of science and technology,” notes Burnham. “We hope to become a showcase and educational resource for the science and technology underlying the technology companies in the Tri-Valley, and we actively seek additional outreach activities throughout the Tri-Valley.”

The work by LSSC will benefit not only to those who learn from the exhibits but also the businesses within the Tri-Valley and the region as a whole. “We hope LSSC will become the lynchpin in the regional STEM ecosystem using leading-edge methods to inspire a STEM mindset in everyday life; elevating the Tri-Valley as an innovative, science-driven place to live with a more prepared, diverse future workforce,” he says.

LSSC is working toward a capital fundraising campaign to underwrite the multiyear goal of finding or developing a permanent facility for its programs. The nonprofit plans to continue working with partners, including local communities, to present its exhibits to the public. On July 20, visitors to Emerald Glen Park will be able to explore the LSSC vertical wind tunnel exhibit. On July 25, LSSC is sponsoring a talk at the Bankhead Theater in Livermore on the promises and perils of genetic engineering.

For more information about Livermore Science & Society Center, please visit lvscience.org.