Drew Students Place First at Chem Expo in Jersey City
Teach the scientific method to 4-to-10-year-olds.
November 2017 – For the second straight year, a group of students from Drew University placed first in a demonstration competition at the Chem Expo at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.
Sponsored by the North Jersey American Chemical Society, the contest aims to make chemistry fun for children through hands-on activities. This year’s theme—”Chemistry Rocks!”—focused on geochemistry, and Drew bested teams from nine other New Jersey colleges to take the top spot and claim the Sister Marian José Smith Undergraduate Public Outreach Award.
The winning team included more than a dozen members of the Drew University Chemistry Society and the school’s chapter of Gamma Sigma Epsilon, a chemistry honor society. Together, they led 4-to-10-year olds through a series of tests to gauge properties like density and magnetism in pet rocks that they had “adopted.” The children recorded their results in small notebooks that served as “adoption papers” for the rocks they named.
More than 100 children attended the demonstration, which took place at the Jennifer Chalsty Center for Science Learning and Teaching, according to Assistant Professor Sandra Keyser, the faculty advisor. After the experiments, participants decorated the rocks.
“The judges were impressed by the enthusiasm of the Drew volunteers,” Keyser said. “They also appreciated how the children were engaged and involved in the experimentation.”
“The biggest goal was to teach the kids about the scientific method,” said Tyler Dorrity, a senior from Toms River who’s president of the Chemistry Society.
Zoe Coates Fuentes, a senior from Costa Rica who’s president of Gamma Sigma Epsilon, said that beyond teaching lab safety, the exercise showed the children that science is fun. “It made it accessible and entertaining,” she said.