Classroom Science and Curiosity Unites Siena with the Local Community

Classroom Science and Curiosity Unites Siena with the Local Community

Friday, December 11, 2015

Erin DeGregorio ’16

A group of students from Siena’s School of Science connected with middle school students at Paige School through their shared love for science and curiosity.

Having been active collaborators with the Schenectady school over the last three years, the Siena Chemistry and Biochemistry Club worked in conjunction with alumna Sara Henze ’83, middle school teacher of Paige School, to plan and coordinate a “Day of Science” for her students.

“Siena is a community that is built on the desire to use our talents to help others, so the CBC was more than willing to help out,” said Kathleen Ackert ’16, secretary of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Club. “We decided to reach out to [members of the Physics Club and the ASBMB] and ask if they wanted to collaborate and they were more than willing! We are all incredibly passionate about science and learning, and it was tons of fun to design experiments and demonstrations fit for 7th and 8th graders.”

The children had the opportunity to witness and participate in three, 10-minute hands-on experiments with 17 members from the Chemistry and Biochemistry Club, the Biology Club, the Physics Club, and the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB). To help teach the children about polymer chemistry, engineering, and mechanical and electric energies, all the demonstrations featured everyday, household items like glue, lemonade mix, toothpicks, and light bulbs, further proving that science is not as complex as one might initially think.

“[The ‘Day of Science’] helped young students get excited about science and learning and we all had a lot of fun together. So many kids see school as boring and I think we showed them how fun science can be, and hopefully we inspired some to even think about a career in science!” commented Ackert.

Not only did the Paige School students benefit from the event, but so did the Siena science students who participated, according to Zackary Gregg ’16, president of the Chemistry Club.

“I personally believe every time you get Siena students off campus and into the actual world it reminds them of the small bubble that Siena is in the big percolator of life. This reminds them that exams are not the problems of the non-collegiate world, so it is important to keep this in mind at all times.”

Jodi O’Donnell, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry, echoed a similar idea, saying, “Not only is outreach like this rewarding for the middle school students, it's also incredibly gratifying for the Siena students when they make a connection with our community. Outreach events for primary and secondary students are a highly effective means of growing and diversifying the STEM workforce, and possibly even the future Siena student population.”