FSC Students Inspire Next Generation of Scientists
LAKELAND, Fla. (Apr. 20, 2011) – In the hope of inspiring the next generation of scientists, students in Florida Southern College’s Chemistry and Physics Program put the laboratory into action this week for a group of local-area elementary school students. With funds from an American Chemical Society grant, FSC students worked with Wahneta Elementary School fifth-graders to conduct hands-on laboratory experiments on Florida Southern’s campus. These activities gave the visiting students a one-of-a-kind opportunity to experience science in an engaging new way.
“This is an outreach program developed for younger students. It teaches them that science is fun. It was extremely rewarding to see how well they worked together in a real laboratory setting,” said FSC junior Ashley Scott. Scott is a chemistry major and plans to pursue a career in the medical field.
On Monday, the Wahneta fifth-graders were split into four groups and then rotated between laboratory stations. They performed experiments on scientific topics considered vital to education by Sunshine State Standards. The “Standards” are academic achievement guidelines and goals developed by the Florida Department of Education.
The day’s activities included studying magnetism, creating bracelets to represent the water cycle, and documenting the effects of different temperatures on inflated balloons. The students also were given extra science “kits” to share with other students who were not able to participate in the experiments on campus.
Dr. Carmen Gauthier, FSC chemistry professor and division chair of natural sciences and mathematics, developed the program as a way to instill a love of science in children of a younger age. She believes the lessons given at FSC will inspire some of the Wahneta students to consider pursuing careers in the scientific and technical fields; areas that will be full of opportunity for the workforce of the future.
Not only was the program beneficial for elementary school students, but it also offered Florida Southern College students valuable experience in explaining and interacting with scientific concepts.
Dr. Gauthier said she intends to continue the project next year and will work to expand it so that the campus’s Miller Planetarium can be utilized. The Planetarium is a unique auditorium attached to the Polk County Science Building that provides simulations of stars and other astronomical bodies.
For more information about Florida Southern’s chemistry program, call 863-680-4316 or visit www.flsouthern.edu/academics/chem.