Gomez Lab Science Outreach
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Biology Students Host 'Science for Fun’ Taste & Smell Activities at Scranton Elementary School
On February 23, 2017, nine University students from the Biology Department conducted hands-on educational demonstrations and activities focused on the senses of smell and taste to 70 fourth grade students at McNichols Plaza Elementary School in South Scranton. The main goal of the day’s activities was to get students excited about learning STEM subjects beyond those that they would normally see in their classroom.
The demonstrations included activities such as identifying jelly bean flavors with a plugged nose, sampling commercial products and the pure chemicals used to flavor them, and learning all about umami (savory) taste. The activity – part of a “Science for Fun” community engagement initiative – was organized by the Office of Community and Government Relations, in collaboration with the College of Arts and Sciences, as part of a Community Partnership with the Scranton School District. This is an educational initiative designed to excite and inspire students through a process of engaged, collective, and active educational participation.
The students who participated in the program are all currently conducting research at the University: Gabrielle Hammel, Alexander Haber, Annie Kennedy, Haleigh McBride, Matthew Reynolds, Erika Beyrent and Marissa Galardi, who work with Dr. George Gomez; senior student Ashley Opalka, who is currently the president of the Scranton Neuroscience Society and works with Dr. Robert Waldeck; and Sarah Ricupero, who works with Dr. Marc Seid. They were accompanied by Dr. George Gomez from the Biology Department. The students who participated thought it would be a wonderful idea to share their research expertise and enthusiasm for science with a future generation of budding scientists.
“I loved interacting with the kids!”, said Haleigh McBride. “They were truly excited about everything we had to show them, and I think we really got them excited about science.”
This partnership will continue in the coming months with other science activities at McNichols Plaza elementary school. In addition, for the second year in a row, high school students participating in the United Neighborhood Centers “Leaders in Training” program will visit campus this spring for hands-on after-school “Science for Fun” programs with Physics and Biology faculty and students.