Youth Programs Helps Science Score Big with Young People
By Jennifer Donovan | Published
Michigan Technological University took its traveling STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Road Show to Grand Rapids last week, inspiring thousands of elementary and high-school students to “score with science” at a hockey game and science expo.
The Grand Rapids Griffins’ annual matinee game and Score With Science Expo featured exciting, hands-on activities for the students, presented by Michigan Tech Youth Programs staff. They showed the youngsters how to make liquid nitrogen ice cream, to “walk on water” in an oobleck pool filled with a cornstarch mixture that looks like water but acts like a solid, to blow smoke like a dragon using graham crackers frozen with liquid nitrogen and to play with a plasma ball.
“The students were fully engaged and their enthusiasm created an electric atmosphere,” said Steve Patchin, Director of Youth Programs Outreach and Engagement at Michigan Tech. “Grand Rapids is definitely a hotbed for young, talented diverse youth.”
The students also enjoyed Design Squad videos of young engineers designing snowboards and doing other unusual engineering jobs such as building penguin habitats. Design Squad is a Public Broadcasting series based in Boston, MA and has collaborated with Youth Programs in several outreach initiatives.
“We were churning out ice cream and storming students through the oobleck at a pretty rapid pace,” said Cody Kangas, Coordinator of Youth Programs. “It was controlled chaos—almost like ‘shock and awe’. Oobleck was flying everywhere, and you could tell most of the students had no idea science could be so much fun.”
After the science activities, the students watched the Griffins win 2 to 1 in a shootout. “What a great day of ‘school,’” remarked one.
John Hoffa, Group Sales Manager for the Griffins, and his director are already planning next year’s event—and they plan to incorporate the Michigan Tech Road Show again.
“Looking forward,” said Hoffa, “we would love to team up with Michigan Tech again in future endeavors. They played a huge part in making the 2009 Matinee Game a success.”
Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.