Stem-Tober 2023 | Cereal or a Rock?

StemComm’s Fall 2023 event was Stem-tober Block Party! We invited everyone to join us for a fun evening with science-based activities, prizes, and more! We had our event near where the physics students have their annual pumpkin drop. 

Ideation & Brainstorming: 

In the ideation process, we split into groups to come up with some ideas for what we wanted our fall event to be. We came up with over 10 ideas. To narrow them, I made a google form that had everyone rank their top 3 choices. After looking at the results, we decided on these activities:

Group 1: Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream and dragons Breath Candy

Group 2: Gene-Tic-Tax

Group 3: Dragon’s Beard Candy

Preparation:

I was part of Group 1, so we got together and discussed what some of the materials were required. We originally wanted to do ice cream, so we made this list:

  • Materials Needed for Ice Cream
    • Liquid Nitrogen from Chem Department
    • Gloves
    • Ice Cream Base
      • Milk (4 cups)
        • Oat milk
      • Sugar (1 cup)
      • Vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)
      • Corn Starch (3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons)
    • Metal Bowl (large)
    • Hand mixer

We quickly decided not to do the liquid nitrogen ice cream and to just focus on the dragons breath candy because it would be easier to make as people came up to our table.

We had some options as to what we wanted to dip into the liquid nitrogen that would give participants “dragon breath.” We were thinking of dipping cereal, so we requested to order large spherical cereal, but it wasn’t going to come on time, so we ordered regular Fruit Loops and marshmallows instead. We also ordered bamboo skewers and contacted a professor to get access to liquid nitrogen canisters. 

The last thing we had to get ready was our poster. We had a poster designed on Figma with a fun dragon and fire visual. We also had some more informational posters that would describe what liquid nitrogen was and how we were using it in our experiment demonstration. 

Day of the Event:

Before the event, I went to the library to print out the poster. After, I met up with all the StemComm people near the Howey building where our event was taking place and helped set up the table, liquid nitrogen setup, and posters. It was a little slow in the beginning, some people who came up to our table were just students passing by, or people who were trickling in for the Pumpkin Drop event. Soon, more people pulled up to our event and we were dipping cereal in liquid nitrogen to give to as many people as we could. 

It was really fun to see people’s reactions to the texture, taste, and density of the liquid nitrogen-dipped cereal. After trying it myself, I found the cereal to be almost the same density as a rock. It was tougher to bite on and made a really big crunch sound. 

If I could change one thing about what we did for the event, it would be make it more apparent that the usage of liquid nitrogen can be hazardous and to partake in our activity at your own risk.

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