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The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

The Student News Site of Sunny Hills High School

The Accolade

CLUB CORNER: STEMup4Youth’s take-home science experiments have taken off with children at Fullerton Public Library

Senior+Garv+Jain+refills+science%2C+technology%2C+engineering+and+math+%5BSTEM%5D+kits+at+the+Fullerton+Public+Library+on+Thursday%2C+Nov.+30.+The+vice+president+of+STEMup4Youth+is+among+three+club+members+who+visit+the+library+each+month.+
Image used with permission from Susie Kim.
Senior Garv Jain refills science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] kits at the Fullerton Public Library on Thursday, Nov. 30. The vice president of STEMup4Youth is among three club members who visit the library each month.

When then-rising senior Susie Kim was headed to Seoul this past summer on board an Air Premia flight, Kim did a mental run-through as to what she’d need to do once the plane landed at the airport.

  1. Catch up with social media notifications on her phone.
  2. Text her Korean relatives that she’s arrived.
  3. Visit the convenience store for a quick meal.

And so when she woke up at her grandma’s house the next day, the one thing Kim never anticipated from her mental run-through was an email from Keithley Hale, a librarian at the Fullerton Public Library:

“The STEM [science, technology, engineering, math] Kits have been super, super popular. We are all out of everything you have given us. The kids are having so much fun with them.”

Kim said she was surprised to have received the email so soon.

“It wasn’t too long since we started this project so knowing that it was successful made me proud,” the senior said. “But I was also worried because I wasn’t home to help my cabinet or make more than what I had prepared, so I was scared we would run out of the backups I had prepared before I left for Korea.”

She then contacted her fellow cabinet member, senior Ashley Kim, who went to the library that day to refill the library with 50 extra prepackaged bags.

“I was super happy and grateful; Susie has always been quick to respond to emails and to get more kits in the library,” Hale said. “We always hate having to say we’ve run out [to kids], but Susie and the team have been great about getting more kits to us quickly.”

As president of STEMup4Youth, Susie Kim began supplying the library with monthly science experiments for children to take home as an ongoing activity with the Sunny Hills chapter of STEMup4Youth, which was approved by the Associated Student Body [ASB] on Sept. 15, 2022. The organization aims to provide underserved children with hands-on STEM activities that they typically would not have access to.

She first thought of the idea of starting STEMup4Youth at Sunny Hills in early 2022 after her discussion with a friend who attends Sunny Hills’ rival school, Troy High School.

The STEMup4Youth organization at Troy began in 2013, nine years before then-sophomore Susie Kim joined after her friend from the rival school invited her.

“After volunteering with them for a while during my sophomore year, I thought it would be a great opportunity to bring this club to Sunny Hills and get other Lancers involved in it, too,” she said.

With the idea of opening a Sunny Hills-specific chapter, Susie Kim said she reached out to then-sophomore Garv Jain, whom she remembered also volunteered under the Troy chapter.

A Google Slides presentation compiled by STEMup4Youth club president senior Susie Kim lists examples of events the organization hosts for underserved children. Kim presented the information to the Associated Student Body on Sept. 13, 2022 to get the club approved for Sunny Hills.

They created an Instagram account in July 2022, recruiting cabinet members including activity manager Ashley Kim to promote a Google Form through which individuals could apply.

Jain and Ashley Kim, both ASB members, helped Susie Kim propose her club application with a Google Slide presentation to the ASB in September of the 2022-2023 school year.

“I was actually really excited because I had gotten a lot of help from the ASB cabinet members, and they gave really good advice,” Susie Kim said.

A Google Slides presentation that Susie Kim compiled lists examples of events the organization hosts for underserved children. Kim presented the information to the Associated Student Body on Sept. 13, 2022, to get the club approved for Sunny Hills.

PLANTING A SEED

While both Sunny Hills’ and Troy’s STEMup4Youth attend events at the Boys & Girls Clubs, public library festivals and after-school programs where they conduct various STEM crafts and science experiments, Susie Kim said she decided to narrow the scope of her own club’s involvement.

“The idea mainly came from the fact that all of our members are pretty busy and couldn’t make the time to go to in-person events every week,” she said. “We also wanted to do something that was pretty unique to the Sunny Hills chapter and initiated by the people from our school rather than the events held by Troy.”

Susie Kim initially chose the Fullerton Public Library based on her past experiences working with children at the location.

“I just wanted to reach out to more people regardless of where they’re located, and when I was younger, I remember attending a few children’s events and volunteering there, too,” she said. “Those were all pleasant experiences, so I thought the Fullerton Public Library was a good start.”

Through this project, the club aims to plant a seed for growth in children.

“It’s the small things that matter — like a seed,” said publicity manager junior Ethan Kim, who joined the club before its partnership with the library because of his passion for science and working with children. “A seed is small, but maybe one experiment would build interest in the kid and then be pursued as a career.”

Susie Kim said she searches online for science experiments and chooses the contents of the batch respectively, which frequently include paper, straws, pipe cleaners and popsicle sticks.

Despite the abundant resources included in each kit to complete the activity, the president desired to add more sources of guidance for the children.

“I know that sometimes written instructions are confusing, and they don’t get the point across well,” Susie Kim said. “It’s always a lot easier to see someone do it visually so I thought that it would be a good idea to post these tutorials on YouTube.”

The club usually films each video during the 30-minute lunch periods in Room 44.

Susie Kim then edits the video instructions and posts it as a public YouTube video under the Sunny Hills chapter’s channel, @shhsstemup4youth. She attaches a quick response code inside each kit that leads to a video on the channel with SH students demonstrating the respective activity.

“I’ve received feedback from the kids and their parents themselves, who tell us that the kids have been really liking the activities and that our YouTube video instructions are really helpful for their learning,” said Susie Kim, who has posted nine episodes as of Thursday, Feb. 1.

DONATIONS, DONATIONS, DONATIONS

Finding finances for the club posed a challenge for Susie Kim, who aspired to host events using these funds.

The president turned to the annual International Food Fair [IFF] on campus for the solution.

The club managed to raise over $200 by selling root beer floats for three tickets each at the February 2023 IFF. 

President senior Susie Kim delivers a batch of STEMup4Youth science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] kits to one of the workers in the Fullerton Public Library on Thursday, April 13. (Image used with permission from Susie Kim)

“I was super thankful we were able to take IFF to our advantage and grow financial stability,” Susie Kim said. “I looked forward to the variety of materials we could purchase with our new club funds.”

The following April, the club entered the Parent Teacher Student Association’s [PTSA] Building Up and Belonging fundraiser, which was sponsored by Discord, an online communication app. The program aimed to recognize teens who created a healthier digital environment and used technology as a communication tool.

“I found out about this opportunity when the PTSA tagged our STEMup4Youth Instagram account to a post promoting the award program,” Susie Kim said. “I definitely didn’t want to miss the chance of winning such a large amount of money that would benefit our club.”

Susie Kim found out STEMup4Youth was one of four recipients of the award; the others were: Fellowship of Christian Athletes, German Club, International Rescue Committee Action and Generation Up.

Each of the four was awarded $100 in the Lyceum during a PTSA-hosted presentation on April 25.

“I felt really happy and excited to be awarded such a large check early into the creation of the club,” Susie Kim said. “I knew that it would help us a lot with creating the STEM kits, and I was worried the club funds from IFF wouldn’t be enough, so I was really thankful to the PTSA for making this opportunity available for us.

The same month, the club used its new funding source to package 30 kits, which were delivered to the Fullerton Public Library.

THE FUTURE OF STEMUP4YOUTH

Members of STEMup4Youth visit the Fullerton Public Library every five weeks to restock the kits. Susie Kim said she usually drops the bags off at the library with Jain or Ashley Kim.

“We really appreciate the hard work that Susie and the rest of the STEMup4Youth team put into the kits,” Hale said. “I hope the next class will continue to want to provide the kits.”

As of Thursday, Feb. 1, the club has supplied over 600 STEM Kits to the library, Susie Kim said.

“I would be honored to become the next president and carry on the club,” Ethan Kim said. “I plan on continuing what we’re doing right now, for example creating STEM Kits and donating them to the library, but also hosting STEM events for Sunny Hills students to promote the club.”

Susie Kim said she feels the successful project is one of the club’s greatest achievements.

“Whenever I go to drop off new STEM kits, the librarians are always so thankful and tell me how much the kids love these activities,” she said. “That really makes me proud, knowing that there are kids who look forward to these monthly STEM kits and enjoy making them.”

Some of the club members share the same feelings.

I hope that through this club, I will be able to kindle little kids’ interest in STEM and allow them to find enjoyment in it.”

— activity manager senior Ashley Kim

“I hope that through this club, I will be able to kindle little kids’ interest in STEM and allow them to find enjoyment in it,” Ashley Kim said. “I think something I will miss [when I graduate] is being able to serve the children in my community and hearing the positive feedback and [seeing] the photos from the kids who participate in the STEM kits.”

Co-activity manager senior Chloe Shim said STEMup4Youth has been able to provide experiences for her to prepare her for her future career in pediatric psychology.

“Within the club, I’ve had the privilege of explaining complex science concepts [in videos], including Newton’s Three Laws of Motion and actively contributing to the assembly of our monthly STEM kits alongside fellow club members,” Shim said. “These experiences have not only allowed me to positively impact the children in my community but have also fueled my passion for working with them in the future.”

Though Susie Kim won’t be around to see what will happen to the club next school year, she said she hopes it will continue to have a positive impact on the student volunteers and the children.

“I really think STEMup4Youth is an amazing opportunity for Sunny Hills students to use the knowledge from the extensive programs provided at Sunny Hills to help and educate children who normally don’t get this experience,” she said.

STEMup4Youth meets every other Tuesday at lunch in Room 44. For more information, contact Susie Kim at [email protected].

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Julie Jung, Staff Reporter
After completing Journalism 1 in her freshman year, sophomore Julie Jung joins The Accolade as a staff reporter for the 2023-2024 school year. Although Jung previously found interest in writing feature stories, she hopes to gain more experience in other elements of journalism and make new connections with peers throughout her time in The Accolade. Outside of school, Jung likes to spend time with friends and family and play games.
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