Glen Jackson (fourth from left) and his students Rachael Kyper and Lee Greenawald (second and third from left, respectively) pose with members of the Georgia Tech research team
Photo courtesy of: Glen Jackson
Glen Jackson and student Rachael Kyper pose with the Cat in the Hat at festival
Photo courtesy of: Glen Jackson
Nov 4, 2010
By Emily Maddern
Two Ohio University research groups were recently featured at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C.
Researchers from the STEAM project and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry each hosted an exhibit in the two-day expo on the National Mall along with more than 650 science and engineering organizations from across the country. The exhibits, two of only 15 sponsored by the National Science Foundation, offered hands-on science lessons and experiments for curious students of all ages.
The event was the nation’s first national science festival. The festival’s official website states that the goal of the event was to “re-invigorate the interest of our nation’s youth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) by producing and presenting the most compelling, exciting, educational and entertaining science gatherings in the United States.”
“Science and Technology Enrichment for Appalachian Middle-Schoolers (STEAM)” is a collaborative project among Ohio University’s Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering and Technology and the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education and Human services, and area middle school teachers and students.
STEAM’s exhibit, “Middle School Science Learning Games,” featured WaveHero, Fruit Fly Genetics and Space Racer – games designed to help students master science concepts. The games were developed with teacher input on content and with alignment to science and academic content standards.
David Chelberg, associate professor in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences, said it was both exciting and inspiring to interact with the students, parents and educators that
visited the exhibit.
“Hundreds of middle school teachers and others received a CD with copies of our games. They told us that they plan on using the games in their classrooms and homes,” he said.
Chelberg said the event was also beneficial for the four graduate students who attended and worked the exhibit.
“It gave them a concrete sense of how much impact their work can have and also how starved the public is for good software that both teaches and encourages kids’ interest in science,” he said.
The Office of the Vice President for Research, Russ College and Patton College provided funding for the team to prepare for the event.
The “You Can Be a Forensic Scientist!” exhibit was led by Glen Jackson, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry.
The research project was a collaborative effort between Jackson and Facundo Fernandez, an associate professor in the Georgia Institute of Technology’s School of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
The exhibit featured a variety of cases and scenarios in which students used miniature portable instruments to identify and analyze evidence in cases involving drugs, bullet casings, plastics and glass.
Jackson said one of the highlights of the event was seeing the countless smiles and looks of awe and fear as students worked with the portable instruments.
“It’s exciting to put a scientific instrument in the hands of a young student. I think we showed people quite an exciting side of chemistry,” he said.
Jackson said that he hopes students who visited the exhibit can see beyond subjects like atomic structure and realize that there is something exciting to be learned in chemistry.
“I hope students remember the exhibit and think it was cool and one day might want to study forensic chemistry, or maybe even build those instruments themselves.”