School may be out for the summer, but that doesn’t mean students should stop learning.
Last week, 24 rising eighth-grade students from Sherwood Middle School discovered just how fun math and science could be at the inaugural Math/Science Week, hosted by the LSU College of Science.
While engaging in hands-on activities in LSU laboratories and other research facilities, students were able to delve headfirst into the many fields of science, such as biology, chemistry, physics and geology.
“Programs like LSU Math/Science Week help expose students to math and science fields early in their academic journey,” said Guillermo Ferreyra, interim dean of the College of Science. “Our goal is to ignite an excitement for math and science that students can carry through middle and high school and into their college careers.”
“The College of Science faculty and staff have worked diligently to provide exciting experiences that will inspire our next generation of scientific innovators and discoverers,” he added.
From day one, there were unique experiments, activities and even competitions in which the students could take part.
The LSU MathCircle, a group of middle-and high-school “mathletes” from across the nation, hosted a math competition for the eighth graders, allowing them to gain firsthand experience with mathematic concepts that are not typically introduced at the high school level.
From there, experiments with mock DNA fingerprinting took center stage. DNA templates and swab samples were made and, with the help of a few graduate assistants, the students set up a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, to amplify the DNA.
Among other various activities, the students observed chemical reactions, discussed the geography of Mars during an afternoon virtual chat with NASA scientists and visited the Livingston Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory, or LIGO, where they learned about Einstein’s gravitational waves.
“The program is an outstanding opportunity for these young people to have access to the students, staff and faculty of the College of Science,” said Eric Achberger, LSU associate professor of biological sciences and a facilitator for Math/Science Week. “I hope some of our enthusiasm for math and science will inspire them in their future studies.”
LSU Math/Science Week was made possible through the generous support of ExxonMobil and Pat Bodin, LSU mathematics graduate and member of the LSU College of Science Dean’s Circle Executive Committee.
The LSU College of Science faculty, staff and students share a common goal of preparing the next generation of leading scientists, innovators and scholars. The college is comprised of five academic departments: Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Geology & Geophysics, Mathematics, Physics & Astronomy and the Museum of Natural Science. Among its faculty, the college has six Boyd Professors, the highest professorial rank awarded by the LSU Board of Supervisors, and 26 Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific society. Visit the College of Science at http://science.lsu.edu/.
Contributing editor: Otisha Paige