MBMS Expo Puts the “T” in STEM

NITROPOD making flash freeze Dragon’s breath with liquid Nitrogen! Picture Courtesy MBEF

The community came out in droves to the Manhattan Beach Middle School campus for its first-of-its-kind STEM Expo, presented by Chevron with more than 500 people in attendance on March 2. The expo concentrated on interactive exhibits in the STEM field with the big highlight — the unveiling of Chevron’s robotic dog Spot 2.0. 

Manhattan Beach Unified District-wide Teacher on Special Assignment (TOSA) Tanya Sanchez organized the event with the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation. Sanchez said these events are critical in sparking curiosity in STEM studies, which are centered around science, technology, engineering, and math. 

“I just hope everyone is getting a little more exposure to STEM and seeing how it has a lot to do with problem-solving and communicating ideas,” said Sanchez. 

“STEM is a great way to build skills and increase the ways we can find answers to problems that come up daily in our lives.”


Feature Makerspace Program
Photo Courtesy MBUSD

The STEM TOSA position, along with other TOSA positions, is funded by the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF) along with science labs and the elementary school program Makerspace. Sanchez’s new role has already improved STEM within MBUSD and supports science teachers in Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) instruction, facilitating communication, and collaboration with teachers, and providing a more focused STEM pathway for students. 

MBEF Executive Director Hilary Mahan said the vision was a fun-filled, family event intended to offer diverse opportunities under one roof.

“Our foundation funds so many important initiatives in MBUSD, so we are grateful for Chevron and all our partners in keeping programs like STEM in a healthy state for the children,” Mahan said. “Events such as the STEM Expo are critical for our community, state, and country to retain its position at the forefront of scientific innovation.” 

MBEF has funded over $1.2 million to support STEM for the 2022-23 school year.

Attendees were buzzing with excitement as the four-legged robot Spot 2.0 was in action, interacting with attendees with its advanced sensors and cameras. When it’s not out and about, Spot is an employee of Chevron’s El Segundo refinery. It performs routine operator duties and provides real-time facility scans of the refinery. 


Chevron’s Robotic Dog Spot
Picture courtesy MBEF

“Chevron’s commitment to supporting STEM education has never been stronger nor more in need,” said Jeff Wilson, corporate affairs manager at Chevron. “Events such as the MBMS STEM Expo will continue to inspire the next generation of innovators to help meet the world’s future energy needs, so we are proud to be involved.” 

The company has been a long-time supporter of STEM initiatives at MBUSD, contributing over $1.5 million over the last two decades through MBEF. At the event, Chevron also offered attendees an augmented technology experience.

Holovision, AR technology from Chevron
Picture Courtesy MBEF

The STEM Expo provided an opportunity for people to learn how STEM is essential to many different types of industries, and to see the work students are doing in the classroom.

Two Bit Circus brought interactive, virtual reality exhibits. The Roundhouse Aquarium offered marine biology activities, and attendees tasted NITROPOD liquid nitrogen ice cream. 

MBUSD introduces students to STEM in elementary school through the Makerspace program. Students are offered opportunities to participate in STEM-related activities, such as the robotics club. But Sanchez said the event was not just about STEM.

“These events help parents and families connect to their school community; it also teaches our kids how to give back as leaders,” she said. “The student volunteers learned as much from being there to help as those who learned something new from an activity or project.”

“As educators, we hope to plant seeds that in the future bloom,” Sanchez said. “We have hardworking and innovative teachers who are doing this work daily.  STEM education can start early. We are doing great things in TK, and at the elementary level in building this STEM culture. It helps students think critically, communicate with others better, and develop interpersonal collaborative skills. It prepares them for a world where they must figure it out without a manual or directions.”

To learn more about the STEM TOSA position listen to the “In the Know” podcast at MBEF.org. ER



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