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SOS Wows Students

June 7, 2012

    Area science and math teachers, Colleen Knight (Bay City), Debra Setzer (Sweeny), and Heidi Elliott (El Campo), as well as college students, Elizabeth Castanon, Fred Mueller, and John Budd (Texas A&M University - Kingsville), electrified local students at a SOS (Science on Saturday) event that took place at the Center for Energy Development in Bay City on May 19.

    An estimated 175 students of all ages participated in a variety of experiments geared to ignite interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). Parents, teachers and other community members attended as well. SOS was the Nuclear Power Institute's (NPI) first attempt to bring a STEM related event outside of the classroom and into the community to demonstrate and explain to students that science is fun and everywhere!

    Taking turns encasing each other inside giant bubbles, students discovered that bubbles have air pressure. Another variation on the bubble experiment involved using dry ice, examining the "rainbow" on bubbles to determine thickness, and how this information is used in industry. Of course the "smoking" dry ice prompted many "oohs" and "aahs" from the budding young scientists. Students also saw how a black light can be utilized to show luminescence in the glowing bubble volcano demonstration, and discussion ensued about how black light is used in forensics (think CSI, Bones, and House television shows).

    Another hands-on demonstration included use of a Van de Graaff electrostatic generator and a Barbie doll in a "hair-raising" discovery. Students used a Geiger counter to discover more about radiation in everyday life, and the grand finale involved liquid nitrogen and the creation of clouds right before the students' eyes.

    Development of the nuclear workforce is the main focus of NPI, a unique statewide partnership led by the Texas Engineering Experiment Station and headquartered at Texas A&M University. NPI has a number of K-12 student, teacher and counselor programs that encourage STEM at all levels. Knight, Setzer, and Elliott serve as sponsors for one of NPI's workforce development initiatives in secondary schools-POWER SET (Powerful Opportunities for Women Eager and Ready for Science, Engineering and Technology). POWER SET encourages female students who have an aptitude for STEM to pursue careers in those fields. SOS would not have been such a great success without the help of Chris Skinner (El Campo High School), Valerie Segovia (NPI Director of Outreach and Development), and Dr. Wayne Kinnison (Professor at Texas A&M University - Kingsville).

    SOS Wows Students pic2

    SOS Wows Students pic3

    More pictures from this event: SCIENCE ON SATURDAY: May 2012



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