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Union’s ACS chapter begins new year of elementary school presentations

Union chemistry students Brooklin Byrd (left) and Tyler Jones work with students from Alexander Elementary School on a science experiment.
Union chemistry students Brooklin Byrd (left) and Tyler Jones work with students from Alexander Elementary School on a science experiment.

JACKSON, Tenn.Sept. 6, 2012 – Hands-on teaching opportunities for Union’s Student Members of the American Chemical Society will continue this year in local elementary schools.

Union’s SMACS group presents fun demonstrations of the scientific method with select students in three Jackson elementary schools through the Fusion Science Theater program. Experiments in this program are composed of brief interactive skits that examine questions from “What makes the loudest boom?” to “What ball will bounce higher?”

The illustrations include plenty of opportunities for the audience of children to see the science behind how things work.

“You can think all you want, but modeling is a very important part of science,” Union University chemistry professor Randy Johnston said.

The skits engage a child’s brain by introducing a question that will be answered by the end of the show, according to Stephanie Cheadle, a junior chemistry major at Union.

“I hope [the students] learn to see science and chemistry in real life,” said Cheadle, SMACS community outreach coordinator..

During intermission the Union students also serve liquid nitrogen ice cream to engage the audience with as many senses as possible.

“We are serving [the students] and it relates to our major,” Cheadle said. “We get so much out of their reaction and seeing them learn.”

For the elementary students this program offers innovative ways of seeing science, while the Union students gain teaching exposure. SMACS invites all chemistry majors interested in the Fusion Science Theater program to join in their efforts this year.

This September, Johnston and two SMACS students will attend a Fusion Science Theater conference in Madison, Wisc., to further their knowledge of the program and learn a new skit. FST provides travel and housing funds for the workshop.

Union’s chapter also recently received $454 from an ACS Community Interactions Grant for the elementary school programs.

In the future, Johnston hopes to include demonstrations that reinforce science content required by the state to prepare the elementary students for testing.

By Elizabeth Oakes (’14)

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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