Students at Binghamton University provided local kids with hands-on experience in different fields of science this past Saturday.

The “I’m a Complex Kid!” (ICK!) science fair is an annual event, held by the Binghamton Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), in which children from kindergarten to fifth grade interact with science experiments run by BU student volunteers. The event was held in the Innovative Technologies Complex (ITC) Rotunda on April 24, marking the 15th-annual ICK! fair and the first held in person since 2019.

David Godovich, president of BMES and a senior majoring in biomedical engineering, said the event faced some complications with transitioning back to an in-person format.

“It was definitely a challenge,” Godovich said. “We haven’t had an in-person event for three years and we had to learn everything from scratch, like how to get the reservation for the ITC, how to get the materials for the stations and how to get the word out to kids and their parents.”

Multiple tables were set up with different experiment stations hosted by student volunteers, and kids and parents were able to move freely to each exhibition. At each table, an explanation and interactive demonstration for each experiment was given. Children were encouraged to ask questions about what they observed in each exhibition.

Dhamar Blanco, a senior majoring in biochemistry, operated a station where children were able to observe the difference in longevity between bubbles blown with just soap and water, and bubbles blown with soap, water and corn syrup. Blanco felt that educating kids about the specifics behind the experiments was helpful for their growth.

“I think it’s really important for children to see all areas of science and learn young about what their likes and dislikes are,” Blanco said. “There are many different fields of study they can find out they’re interested in.”

Dimitri Gouvoussis, another attendee and a junior majoring in biomedical engineering, said he believed it is important to help kids better understand various areas of science. Gouvoussis piloted a station that showed kids how differences in dye and oil density and chemical properties cause a firework-like effect when put in water.

“I got involved with the event really to help get more kids involved in these fields,” Gouvoussis said. “I’m hoping the kids come away from this with an interest in science.”

Clara Zook, a freshman majoring in biology, ran a station that demonstrated how the weight of stringed beads when layered in a cup can be used to propel the beads out of the cup. When pulled, a linked bead balanced on the edge of a cup will shoot up in an arc, causing an “anti-gravity-like” effect. Zook said she enjoyed her time working with the kids, and felt she was making a difference.

“I’ve always loved volunteering and science, that’s why I’m here today,” Zook said. “I think the kids really like it a lot too, although one little boy tried to drag me and the beads away with him.”

Some members of BMES, like Joseph Heinle, a sophomore majoring in biomedical engineering, said the event helped to bridge the gap between students at various levels of education.

“This is a great way to connect to the upperclassmen that are leaving us and the future generations of scientists,” Heinle said. “I want kids to think that science is fun and be nerds like us — try new things and don’t be afraid to have a good time.”

Parents were also encouraged to engage, ask questions and interact with the demonstrations as much as their kids. Jessica Sergent, a parent and resident of Broome County who attended the event with her children, said there were many interesting and enjoyable stations to visit at the fair.

“It’s been fun but messy, but learning is messy and they’ve learned a lot,” Sergent said. “There’s been a lot that I haven’t even known so it’s been enjoyable for both me and my kids.”

Sherrina Abdool, the community outreach coordinator for BMES and a senior majoring in biomedical engineering, said they were initially worried about how the fair would turn out due to all the previous members that had run an in-person event having graduated. However, Abdool said there ended up being a great turnout of engaged attendees.

“I would say the event has been successful,” Abdool said. “It’s really rewarding for the volunteers to see the kids so engaged, they’re so curious, they’re asking so many questions and the parents are so happy to see their kids interested in why things happen the way they do. We’re influencing careers here.”