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
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'
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).
More pictures from this event: SCIENCE ON SATURDAY: May