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|Doctoral student combines chemistry and outreach|
| Andrew Greenberg, a Penn State doctoral student, is combining his graduate studies in chemistry with outreach programming designed to make chemistry fun for elementary and secondary school students.|
During spring semester, 80 ninth-graders in the State College Area School District participated in Project FLASK (Fun and Learning Activities in Science for Kids). This hands-on chemistry lesson focused on wastewater treatment. Greenberg designed the program and delivered it with eight Department of Chemistry faculty and staff members.
Planning these kinds of education programs for students is a great way for me to learn more about chemical education, Greenberg said. Its a lot of fun, and I feel lucky to be earning a degree in this area.
A year ago, he and Dr. Jacqueline M. Bortiatynski, instructor in chemistry, designed the first chemical education program for children in response to a request from a second-grade teacher at the school where Bortiatynskis daughter is enrolled. This chemical education program has led to requests for programs from other local schools. Greenberg is now designing education programs for students in second through ninth grade in the State College Area School District.
One program, called Under the Sea, followed the exploits of two fish that got lost during a school field trip. Greenberg, Bortiatynski and other Department of Chemistry faculty and staff helped children understand science concepts at eight hands-on learning stations. In another program, third-graders played chemical detectives.
The wastewater treatment lesson was similar in scope to these programs, but tailored to meet the educational needs of older students. Greenberg began the lesson with a lecture outlining the science concepts related to wastewater treatment. He asked the students to imagine themselves as local government officials responsible for making decisions about how to handle wastewater treatment in their community.
Following the lecture, Greenberg organized the students into groups of 10 for hands-on chemistry experiments under the supervision of a Penn State instructor. In addition to Greenberg and Bortiatynski, Project FLASK instructors for this program included: Dr. Robert D. Minard, senior lecturer in chemistry; Dr. John P. Lowe, professor of chemistry; Dr. Karl T. Mueller, assistant professor of chemistry; Dr. Joseph T. Keiser, lecturer in chemistry; Dr. A. Daniel Jones, director of mass spectroscopy; Dr. Amy M. Diegelman, postdoctoral researcher in chemistry; and Susan E. Swope, director of physical chemistry.
Our chemical education programs are a supplement to what the students are studying in class, Greenberg said. I work with the teachers to create a program that is appropriate for the learning levels of the students.
The National Science Foundation funds these chemical education programs.
An outreach program of the Eberly College of Science