Fast and Furious Science

Jasmine Fernandez, Editor-In-Chief

The Fast and the Furious Science event at Downey High School was an invitation open to anyone with a passion for the field of science, on Mar. 27, and ranged from physics to engineering to astronomy. The event consisted of seven speakers, all of which carried some association with the disciplines. Among the speakers were DaNel Hogan, Jaime Waydo, Kyle Hill, Robert Crutchfield, Ana Kwa, Jeremy Hampton and Steve Ranck.


The event stretched across technical areas and plucked scientists from a variety of vocations to present their involvement in everyday life, utilizing scientific education as a segue into a number of seemingly unrelated career paths. With the upcoming Fast and Furious 8 as a backdrop, the speakers were able to create an environment in which students connected scientific research to the production of the film.


Between actual cars from the Fast and Furious films and a speed-dating-esque system in which speakers gave quick presentations; the event had something for students of varying interests to explore. In particular, Jaime Waydo, specialist involved with Google’s self-driving car, zeroed in on fundamental scientific functions and their practical uses for everyday people.


“I want to talk about how the self-driving car works,” Waydo said. “I want to give people a kind of foundational understanding of how they work.”


Additionally, presenters mentioned the integration of science in the classroom. With an emphasis on high school programs, the speakers answered questions about not only an aspiring scientist’s education, but they also used anecdotes of themselves to provide guidance. DaNel Hogan, physicist and director of the STEMAZing Project dedicates her time to walking fellow teachers through effective teaching methods.


“I teach teachers how to do a better job of teaching science technology, engineering, and math with a real focus on childhood and elementary school teachers,” Hogan said. “That’s the most critical age.”


The event also hosted individuals that combined the notion of science with casual entertainment outlets such as movies, television and video games. From special effects to game making to informative programs, these speakers made an especially strong tie of the sciences to modern media.


As a result, students were introduced to the extents of a technical vocation that went beyond the stereotypical “scientist” career. Presentations examined physics in relation to motorcycles, the reaches of the universe with astrophysics, and the application of newtonian force to Fast and the Furious. Overall, there was a level of enthusiasm for STEM research unlike any in a typical physics classroom.


Vivian Herrera, 10, finds this enthusiasm perfectly justifiable, as she herself hopes to enter a specialized vocation.


“My dream is to become an aerospace engineer, physicist, and hopefully an astronaut,” Herrera said. “It might seem like a crazy dream, but I’m willing to put all my work in doing the things I love to do.”


As to promote the cultivation of passions like Herrera’s, Kyle Hill, Mythbusters and Nerdist host explained that this method created the bridge necessary to effectively involve students in the sciences.


“The way that I have found that connects especially with people like you and kids your age is using popular culture,” Hill said. “It’s stuff that you already love.”


Concluding with a panel of all seven speakers, those in attendance were able to have one-on-one conversations with the experts and further their paths to success in the field. The panel also emphasized the availability of these programs, asserting to the attendees that one mistake in school will not ultimately sabotage one’s dream to enter the field of science. Jennifer Martinez, 10, found this particularly inspiring.


“During the panel questions, almost everyone from the panel said that failing one test is not going to affect your future. As long as we believe and keep trying, we can do it,” Martinez said. “I found that to be inspiration because if they were not perfect through high school and if they did it, so can I.”
In all, the Fast and Furious Science event provided students with a space to develop their scientific ambitions or even broaden their horizons to include career paths they had not considered before.