MIDWEST CITY — Jacob Nix grasped the handles on the two halves of a black plastic ball and strained to pull them apart.
“It's like it's super-glued!” the fourth-grader shouted, still trying to separate the two halves of the orb.
After a few moments, Ron Perez-Guerra, a student at Rose State College, turned a valve, and the orb came apart in Jacob's hands.
The force holding the two halves of the ball together, Perez-Guerra explained, was air pressure — the pressure in the room outside the ball was greater than the pressure inside the ball. When Perez-Guerra turned the valve, air rushed into the ball, equalizing the pressure, and the seal was broken.
As Jacob inspected a series of other demonstrations and displays Wednesday at Rose State College's Central Oklahoma Science and Engineering Festival, his mother, Jaime Nix looked on. Her son, she said, has been interested in science and engineering for years. He's interested in building, taking apart and trying to find out how things work.
“We're a Lego family,” she said.
Wayne Jones, dean of Rose State's engineering and science division, said students like Jacob are exactly who the festival is targeting. The event is intended to foster interest in disciplines related to science, technology, engineering and math.
This marks the first year for the event. The festival, held in Rose State's student center, includes displays from student science projects, as well as science, math and robotics demonstrations and an inflatable planetarium.
The event plays into a larger national conversation about attracting students toward disciplines related to science, technology, engineering and math. Both Gov. Mary Fallin and Oklahoma Secretary of Science and Technology Steve McKeever have called for a redoubling of efforts to produce well-trained graduates in those fields.