Cape Cod Point of View: SE Massachusetts STEM Expo

SE MA STEM EXPO- Cape View May 24,2012 Guest Blog Post by Dr. Jack Driscoll, PR Chair Northeastern Section of the American Chemical Society

This EXPO was a success for the students and teachers who were very excited to attend a science & technology convention for young students. There were a wide range of companies and organizations who could discuss careers and provide demonstrations from marshmallow construction to blood chemistry to robotics. A STEM program that was recently added to the 8th grade curriculum of the Dennis Yarmouth school district was presented. 

For the high school students who did not attend, the National Science Foundation (NSF) offers scholarships in STEM for Associates, Bachelors, and Masters Degrees. The NSF STEM funding for MA (starting in 2003) has resulted in a 200-300% increase in high AP courses in the Boston Public Schools over the past few years. 

Cambridge Science Festival
We (NESACS) attended the SE MA EXPO as presenters to the 500+ grade 5-8 students from 23 different school systems in SE MA including 4 schools from the Cape and Islands. The EXPO was held at Bridgewater State University in Bridgewater, MA. There were 100 STEM professionals and 200 teachers at Bridgewater State University on May 24, 2012. Some photos at the EXPO are shown below: 

Our Cape companies/organizations included the following:
Cape Cod Science Café- for Communicating chemistry- to NESACS members and the public
PID Analyzers- VOC’s in soil and water
American Chemical Society (ACS)- developing interest for students in scientific careers
Jennifer Maclachlan, George Ruger, Jack Driscoll
ACS Chemistry Ambassadors- Communicating chemistry to the public  

Nova Biomedical Corp.- Demonstration of handheld blood glucose analyzers for type 1 & type 2 people with diabetes. The Nova meter requires a very small blood sample and is ideal for measuring blood glucose in children. 

Dr. Jack Driscoll and Rick Rolling. Children interested in health related fields or had relatives with diabetes were interested. The teachers were more interested than the children according to Rick.

NESACS- Demonstration of pH for all ages- Dr. Jack Driscoll, PR Chair NESACS, ACS, PID Analyzers (R), George Ruger, MID Hudson Section ACS (L) pH meters, pH paper, Red cabbage juice

Smithers Pharma Corp- Blood Chemistry Experiments- Dr. Paul Reibach-
demonstrated testing the compatibility of blood types. Students used common household chemicals to simulate blood types. This exhibit is important for many students considering nursing careers. Students learned about the life and contributions of Dr. Charles Drew, African American physician who developed ways to process and store blood plasma in blood banks- Dr. Paul Reibach, member of NESACS  and ACS. There were many students lined up for this experiment. Jennifer noted "it didn't hurt that Paul would yell out *who wants to learn about BLOOD* to gather a quick crowd around him".

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute-
Demonstration of force (using steel bars and levers). WHOI is one of the largest employers of scientists in the SE MA area (and 1250 scientific personnel). Woods Hole is one of four centers in a program sponsored jointly by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Woods Hole Center is a joint effort involving scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Presented by Josh Eaton, Mechanical Engineer, WHOI, Falmouth, MA

Our Cape Cod Schools included:
Barnstable grades 7 and 8
Dennis Yarmouth presenters- discussing new STEM program (2011) and cooperative water project with Russia
Provincetown grades 6-8  
Sandwich grades 5-8
Upper Cape Regional Presentation on planning careers
Other Cape Organizations
Martha's Vineyard School District Representative(s)
Cape Cod Community College- Connections in conductivity

Only one student knew what pH was. He was a 6th grader who had gone to science camp last summer. The favorite pH scale displayed the difference in pH between meats (acidic) and vegetables (basic). 
The biggest hits were the pH paper for testing water samples and the red cabbage juice (prepared by steaming red cabbage - Jennifer) indicator which for acid turns orange and for base turns purplish blue.
When an enthusiastic group of students came by, they were generally followed by an equally enthusiastic science teacher.
We were able to spark considerable new interest with the demos from our group.
We had English teachers come by and were amazed by the technology there. We said that STEM is important but so is communication. If the technology students can’t write or express themselves, they won’t be successful. We talked to math & geography teachers who were very interested in the STEM EXPO and science, so just because they don’t have a science degree doesn’t mean that they can’t be helpful teaching science with the proper training.

We plan to hold a Cape Cod Science Café with the Cape schools in our area in the late Fall.

National Chemistry Week
Last year during National Chemistry Week (Oct. 2012) we reached over 3,000 students with our four events but there were no schools from Cape Cod. We intend to change that this year.

PRESS RELEASE National Chemistry Week (Oct. 21-27 2012)
For the 25th consecutive year, the ACS National Chemistry Week event in the Boston area will be run by the Northeast Section of the ACS (NESACS). The events will be held in conjunction with the MOS, Boston Children’s Museum and Burlington High School. The 2012 celebration will be conducted during the week of Oct. 21-27, 2012, and the featured theme is “Nanotechnology!” We will have a number of demonstrations for the events based on quantum dots and properties of nano technology particles. This is a STEM event for K-12 students as well as for High School Teachers (Connections to Chemistry). In 2011, NCW, we reached  3,000 K-12 students with our three events. Dr. Bassam Shakhashiri, 2012 President of the ACS, gave talks and provided demonstrations at two of our events. We also provided workshops for 75 High School Chemistry Teachers through our Connections to Chemistry Program during NCW.
The American Chemical Society (ACS) is the world’s largest scientific society with 164,000 members. The Northeastern Section of the ACS region which consists of eastern MA (inside 495) and the state of NH has 7,500 members in academia and industry. We hold monthly meetings that are open to the public and organize, promote and/or attend Cape Cod Science CafesScience Cafe NH and other area Science Cafe events for our members and the general public throughout our region.

For more information on NESACS or NCW contact:
Dr. Jack Driscoll
NESACS Public Relations Chairperson
T: 1 774 413 5281 x 119
Photos courtesy of Jennifer Maclachlan and George Ruger


Popular posts from this blog

#scicomm panel and discussion at #f17mrs

A Portable GC/PID for the Analysis of Odorous Sulfur Compounds in Ambient Air

What to expect at STEM Journey V on May 12th