Young girl decorating cookie at Science Day

Eleanor Stormer Burch, a student at nearby Cornerstone Elementary School, applies a nucleus to her "cookie cell" at The College of Wooster's sixth annual Science Day on Saturday.

 

Science Day Stokes the Imagination of Young Students

Annual event draws 220 visitors to Taylor Hall on Saturday afternoon

29 April, 2014 by John Finn

WOOSTER, Ohio — The two pink-and-white bicycles parked behind Taylor Hall were the first clue that this was no ordinary class day. The owners of the bikes were elementary school students who made their way to campus to participate in The College of Wooster's sixth annual Science Day.

The two young ladies were among the 220 visitors anxious to get a closer look at the sciences during the three-hour event, which featured experiments, demonstrations, and hands-on activities in astronomy, biology, biochemistry, chemistry, geology, neuroscience, physics, and, for the first time, mathematics.

"We think it is important to give students an opportunity to experience a range of sciences at a young age," said Vanessa Logan, a senior physics major at Wooster and the chief organizer of the event. "Events like this get them excited about science."

Among those partaking in the event was 8-year old Eleanor Stormer Burch, who enjoyed creating replicas of cells by placing items on top of iced cookies to represent the contents of the cell (sour gummies for the nucleus, M&Ms for the mitochondria, and sprinkles for the ribosomes).

"Our girls are really interested in how the world works," said Eleanor's father, Chris, whose younger daughter also attended. "We feel it is very important to expose them to science at this age."

Julia Fregonara, a first-year student from Elkins, W.Va., who helped the participants design their cells at the biology station, was impressed by the turnout. "There was a lot of interest," she said. "I wish we would have had something like this in my hometown."

Melissa Schultz, associate professor of chemistry at Wooster and another strong advocate for exposing young people to science, said, "If you provide access at this age, it is more likely that they will pursue the sciences when they are older."

John Lindner, professor of physics at Wooster and an enthusiastic supporter of the annual event, was particularly pleased with the ever-expanding nature of Science Day. "We added mathematics this year, and the students really seemed to like it," he said. "There were puzzles and cards based on mathematics. Some of the kids came up with their own solutions."

Indeed, this year's participants were particularly active and animated. "They seemed very excited," said Logan. "We received a lot of positive feedback. We hope [Science Day] will continue to grow even more next year."