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Binghamton University, in partnership with the Binghamton City School District, hosts its 6th annual Go Green Institute summer science program, designed to excite students about science, math and engineering. Through Go Green, students explore issues of science, math and engineering as they relate to creating a sustainable living environment. Pictured here, sixth graders Alexander MacBlane, Leila El-Begearmi and Alexandra Tucker use sting and rubber bands to stack plastic cups during a teamwork exercise as chemistry PhD student Steve Boyer looks on.
Photo by Jonathan Cohen
Budding scientists, engineers spend summer break in the lab
July 17, 2015Tweet
Alexis Tucker has big plans, plans that would be impressive for a 12th-grader. But Tucker isn’t in high school — she’s entering sixth grade this fall.
“I want to go to Yale University,” Tucker said. “I want to be a forensic scientist.”
Tucker is getting an early start working toward those goals. She’s one of 35 participants in the sixth annual Go Green Institute summer science program, an intensive, 10-day, hands-on learning experience centered on the theme of a greener living environment, held at Binghamton University from July 13-24. A poster session will take place from 12:15-1 p.m. Friday, July 24, outside of LH-14. An awards ceremony will follow the session.
Through Go Green, sixth-grade students from the Binghamton City School District are exploring issues of science, math and engineering as they relate to creating a sustainable living environment. They are experimenting in the lab and taking field trips to the University Nature Preserve and Center of Excellence, working with University faculty members and graduate students, as well as faculty from SUNY Broome and teachers from local school districts.
The University’s Chemistry Department, the Center of Excellence in Small Scale Systems Integration and Packaging (S3IP) and Center for Autonomous Solar Power (CASP) are co-sponsoring the program with the Binghamton City School District. The program is also supported by Binghamton undergraduate students in the National Science Foundation Scholarships for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (S-STEM) program.
Go Green, led by Wayne Jones, professor of chemistry, involves a dedicated group of graduate and undergraduate students, middle school science teachers and faculty working with the students. The program is designed to excite students about science, math and engineering.
“For the U.S. to be competitive in science and technology globally, it is critical that we grow the pipeline of young students interested in careers in science and engineering,” Jones said. “Middle school is a perfect time to capture these talented students’ interest and give them an opportunity to see science and engineering as exciting opportunities to solve problems in everyday life.”
Students are learning about a variety of scientific concepts. These include looking at how batteries are put together, working on projects where they’ve been challenged to design things that will flow through the air more smoothly, and learning what happens when you vary nutrients to a plant. They’re also learning fundamental concepts in different ways. For example, how would one measure something very small without a ruler?
“Students this week are looking at both academic things related to a sustainable environment — including life sciences, physical sciences, engineering and math — as well as working on their own research projects, looking into questions related to ways to improve their household environment, or ways to conserve energy or generate new energy,” Jones said.
When the program lost state support for seventh-graders, Go Green leaders decided to focus on younger students. They’re piloting it this year with the Binghamton City School District.
Jones hopes to get students fired up about science at a time in their lives when interest tends to fade.
“I think many kids start to lose interest in science when they get into middle school,” Jones said. “We’re hoping that we can capture their imaginations now by giving them something that’s not just a classroom environment, but something that’s really hands-on where they can dig into it, try things out their own way, and hopefully come away with not only some new ideas and theories, but also some excitement for science in general.”
Jones hopes to expand the program to every school district in the Southern Tier in coming years. That could mean more future scientists, something Tucker certainly supports.
“If you have more interest, you’ll become smarter and you’ll have more creativity as a scientist,” Tucker said. “And we need more scientists in this world today.”