This April, elementary students at Youth Centers of Orange (YCO) Spring Break Camp got to learn about science with hands-on experiments courtesy of ThinkMED, a Chapman student organization that supports STEM learning. The experiments included working with non-Newtonian fluids and the students making their own lava lamps.

“ThinkMED has been able to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for science with young learners in a way that is both accessible and relatable, which is no easy feat!” said Cameron Geringer-Pate, director of YCO. “It’s had an incredibly positive impact on our
organization and the children we serve,” said Geringer-Pate. “The STEM experiments created by ThinkMED have been engaging and fun, inspiring curiosity and critical thinking in our kids.”

ThinkMED was started by Steven Trinh ’22, a human physiology major who researched ways to reverse blindness caused by diabetes while an undergrad at Chapman’s Crean College of Health and Behavioral Sciences. “I recognized how privileged I was to attend a private institution and to pursue a very fulfilling path towards a career in STEM,” said Trinh. It wasn’t always like that. As a member of an immigrant family who grew up speaking English as a second language, Trinh grew up in an environment that wasn’t always conducive to thinking as a scientist. “One of the things that I always wanted to do was join the elementary school science fair, but the playing field was never leveled to begin with,” he said.

But at 10 years old, armed with a science fair brochure and one trip to Walmart, Trinh won first place at his school, a victory that became a pivotal moment in his career path. “I wanted to be able to give back somehow,” said Trinh.

So far, ThinkMED, which is run entirely by students, has delivered over 20,000 free science kits to students from kindergarten to sixth grade, and their demographic has grown to include special education, high school kids and kids dealing with parents’ cancer through the Camp Kesem organization. Each week, kit recipients have the opportunity to speak with real scientists— Chapman faculty members from Crean and
Schmid Colleges.

ThinkMED’s partnership with YCO was possible thanks to a Community Involvement Grant from Chapman’s Office of Community Relations. The microgrants are available to Chapman student organizations for service projects carried out within the City of Orange.