GARY, Ind. — A savvy instructor at Indiana University Northwest used a combination of humor and real-life engineering facts to encourage high school students to do hands-on activities and experiments in biology, chemistry, computer information systems and geology.

On Aug. 1, Linda Wozniewski captured students’ attention when they made bottle rockets using a combination of a 2-liter bottle, water, white poster board to make the fins and a bicycle pump to push air into the bottle.

The teens cheered with excitement as they watched the rocket take off into the air when the stopper could no longer withstand the pressure in the bottle.

About 50 teens participated in the free summer Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) camp held at the IUN campus in Gary.

Lois Sadlowski, 16, a senior at Hammond Baptist High School, said the class is really cool. She was paired with Lake Central High School sophomore Hugo Gonzalez.

Sadlowski said the teens had a chance to find the DNA of strawberries on the first day of class, filtering the strawberries to obtain the DNA.

“I like science. I’m not really sure what I want to do, but I do enjoy biology,” said Sadlowski, who will be 17 on Aug. 11.

Hammond High School junior German Gonzalez, 16, was paired with Gary West Side Leadership Academy senior D’Amante Harper, 17, to make their bottle rocket. Both said it was a cool project.

Gonzalez said he’d eventually like to go to Ivy Tech Community College and earn an associate’s degree in auto mechanics to do body work.

Diana Del Real, 17, a junior at Edison Jr-Sr High School in Lake Station, and Emmani Ellis, 16, now a junior at Merrillville High School, were excited to see each other and work together. The two girls knew each other from school at Edison.

Ellis said the class is really interactive, and she’s gotten to know students from other schools. “I’m meeting new people and learning new experiments that I hadn’t done before,” said the teen who plans to major in computer science.

Del Real said she doesn’t know what she wants to major in but hopes this camp will help her decide. “Our chemistry teacher last school year did hands-on projects, and it was interesting,” she said.

Students exposed to wide range of science subjects

The students spent the first couple of hours in the physics/engineering class, then switched to computer science after lunch.

Sixteen-year-old twins Chandler and Chantale Leavell, who are juniors at Bishop Noll Institute in Hammond, were paired with Devynn Feagin, 15, a sophomore at Thea Bowman Leadership Academy in Gary, and Ivy Campbell, 16, a junior at Andrean High School in Merrillville, to make their bottle rockets.

Chandler Leavell and Feagin made a shorter cone to top their bottle, believing that would propel the rocket higher in the air.

The camp was made possible by an award from the National Science Foundation. IUN was among six universities partnering in a multi-campus, $4.8 million grant from the foundation to increase the number of African-Americans, Hispanics and other historically underrepresented minorities statewide pursuing baccalaureate degrees in STEM fields.

Professor Bhaskara Kopparty, IUN’s chairman of the Department of Computer Information Systems, leads the effort at IUN. The school’s share of the grant is $470,000, and it will be administered over the next five years.

“We want to encourage minorities’ interest in STEM fields,” he said. Kopparty taught the computer science class at the camp.

“Over the three days, we’ve given the students lots of hands-on activities and, hopefully, they will say, ‘I want to do this,’ and if they get into computer science, their life is made,” Kopparty said.


Source: The (Northwest Indiana) Times


Information from: The Times, http://www.nwitimes.com

This is an Indiana Exchange story shared by The (Northwest Indiana) Times.