Students from four Napa Valley College science clubs hosted workshops in St. Helena on May 27 in partnership with Cameo Cinema’s four-day Family Film Festival and the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga.

The event featured keynote speaker Jose M. Hernandez, a former astronaut, a NASA ambassador and recipient of the 2016 National Hispanic Hero Award, presented by the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute.

Hernandez participated in Math Science Engineering Achievement (MESA) while attending the University of the Pacific. MESA promotes Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM) success for educationally and financially disadvantaged college-bound students through project-based learning, academic counseling and exposure to STEM careers.

Cameo Cinema’s Cathy Buck founded the film festival to inspire young people to learn about science. About 20 NVC students hosted workshops for approximately 40 St. Helena kids.

“I have started an affiliation with Napa Valley College MESA specialist and advisor Rene Rubio to develop a Science on Screen project, and we wanted to do a Science Day at the Family Film Festival,” said Buck.

“The partnership we formed with the college and its science department has been a wonderful experience and we are looking forward to doing more with them; they were amazing, helpful and organized. It was awesome to have had their participation.”

Four NVC Clubs participated, including the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), Women in STEM Empowerment (WISE), NVC Robotics and the Collegiate Aerospace, Astronomy and Physics Society (CAAPS).

SHPE hosted “WiggleBots,” where kids created a motorized contraption made of simple materials that demonstrated the erratic motion created by an offset motor. Once created, the kids were able to attach markers to the contraption which created designs on butcher paper.

WISE hosted “Sudsy Science,” where kids were assisted in mixing chemicals to create bath bombs which are hard packed mixtures of dry ingredient that when submerged create fizzing bubbles.

NVC Robotics hosted “LEGO Robot Cars,” where kids created cars made of LEGOs powered by balloons and raced them.

CAAPS hosted “Star Party,” in which participants were able to stargaze with telescopes, courtesy of the Robert Ferguson Observatory.

“The MESA students did a great job demonstrating their level of professionalism, teaching the young with hands-on experiences,” said Patricia Posada, a STEM counselor with NVC. “I believe this experience gave students a real eye-opener for what Napa Valley College offers.”

STEM club members participate in similar events throughout the year. Details can be found at and

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