Young students get a taste of college life at science fair
PASADENA, Texas – Young students recently got an introduction to college life thanks to an innovative science program at San Jacinto College.
A total of 119 students from Pasadena Independent School District (PISD) schools participated in a science fair held at San Jacinto College Central. During the fair coordinated by the College’s science department, the secondary students displayed projects for judging in the categories of behavioral science, mathematics, engineering, earth science, chemistry, biochemistry, environmental, zoology, physics, botany and health. Project judges included San Jacinto College science students, science and math faculty members, as well as industry representatives.
At the fair, San Jacinto College student volunteers also provided assistance in hands-on science lab experiments, acting as room monitors and in other duties. “All professional schools now want community service as a part of the admission process,” commented Ann Cartwright, chair of San Jacinto College Central’s department of science.
The college student volunteers helped the secondary students in experiments at 11 project stations, including: Gak, which involved mixing glue paste, water and a borax solution to demonstrate the properties of long molecules called polymers; Shrinky-dink, which involved heating pieces of polystyrene plastic and making the material shrink dramatically to demonstrate how polystyrene shrinks in a symmetrical fashion; and, skewer balloon, which involved pushing a lubricated skewer through the thick part of a balloon to demonstrate the elastic properties of some molecules.
PISD students from grades 5-12 participated in the science fair at San Jacinto College. Project winners in grades 7-12 advanced to compete at the Houston Science and Engineering Fair, which was held recently at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Alena Grinstead, PISD secondary science instructional specialist, noted that participating in a science fair challenges younger students to select an area of personal interest, ask questions, and solve problems experimentally using the scientific method.
“It is a great way to excite students about science, teach them to think like scientists, develop organizational skills and enhance their oral and written presentation skills,” Grinstead commented. “Our students are fortunate that their fair is held at San Jacinto College because they get to see adults doing the same kind of research and learning that they are doing. They have the opportunity to interact with college students, teachers and community members who work in science fields.”
The science fair is part of San Jacinto College’s Science Service Learning program, which developed nearly 20 years ago through a series of unplanned events. Cartwright invited elementary school students to visit science labs at the Central campus in the fall of 1990. Back then, Cartwright provided the demonstrations and experiments herself. It was shortly after that she began involving San Jacinto College students. “I noticed that the college students who helped often started taking a more active role in class and grades sometimes improved. My theory was that the extra time I spent one-on-one with the college students gave them a positive feel for science and the interaction with the younger students was also a positive experience for them,” noted Cartwright.
San Jacinto College student Kyle Adcock feels the interaction with the younger students is indeed a positive experience.
“I enjoy seeing the look in the kids’ eyes when they are learning,” remarked Adcock, who lives in Deer Park. “They are so fascinated with the way things work and seem to soak it up like a sponge.”
Adcock says such outside-the-classroom projects enhances education and renews his enthusiasm toward learning. “It’s like looking at learning with fresh eyes,” he commented. “The kids are so willing to learn and it motivates me.”
A wide range of behavioral science, biology and chemistry courses and degree options are available at all three San Jacinto College campuses. San Jacinto College serves more than 24,500 students in over 140 degrees and certificates in university transfer and technical programs. The College also serves the community through workforce training. Students come with various goals and aspirations and we are committed to their success. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.
For more information about the College, please call 281-998-6150 or visit www.sanjac.edu.