Science Academy took a large leap near the end of last year when it became an official student organization.
The academy has been going to local elementary schools to teach children about science since the 2005-2006 academic year, but before now the group functioned mostly under the Chemistry Club, the official chemistry student organization. Now Science Academy is its own student organization and includes formal positions of president, treasurer and executive.
The change occurred last academic year when two students, 2011 graduates Kristy Williams and Amber Ferris, worked to complete all the paperwork necessary to create a student organization. This is the first year that Science Academy has been operating under the new system.
In addition to having the three formal positions, Science Academy also now includes a representative from each science department: chemistry, biology, mathematics, psychology and physics. These representatives work to create experiments that depict their area of science and also bring in students from their own area.
Science Academy has also expanded in other ways over the years. One of these ways is by going out to new schools each year. When the group first started, they only visited a few select elementary schools in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Now, they’ve visited schools in Dilworth and the Naytahwaush Community Charter School, and they plan on visiting a new school in Fargo next semester.
Graeme Wyllie, professor of chemistry, who advises Science Academy, commented on the group’s recent expansion.
“We’re always looking for new places to go out and do science,” Wyllie said.
Another new venue for the group, with a slightly different goal, is the Fargo Public Library. There, the Science Academy hosts “Saturday Morning Science,” 90-minute sessions aimed toward fourth and fifth grade students. These sessions feature a longer experiment designed to be more hands-on for the students.
“It’s about giving them a chance to do more,” Wyllie said.
The Science Academy’s traditional shows feature an opening and closing experiment and a series of booths where the young students can go and see different experiments. These events last about two hours and bring in 200 elementary students and up to 50 Concordia student volunteers.
Elizabeth Blair, a junior and acting president of Science Academy, gave an analogy describing these events.
“It’s kind of like a Science Fair,” Blair said.
The experiments offered change for each show that is held. The department representatives are in charge of creating new experiments so that the elementary kids have something new to see each show.
“We always try and update what we have,” Blair said.
The newest experiment, which has not yet been used in a show, is a sine wave function pendulum which, according to Blair, is pretty cool looking. They hope to have this piece ready to be used in their next school show.
Some of the other experiments that Science Academy conducts are just as visually appealing.
One of these involves mixing propane and soapy water to create highly flammable bubbles. The students conducting the experiment can then light the bubbles on fire while holding them in their hands without causing damage to themselves.
John Head, a senior who does publicity for Science Academy, explains the kids’ reaction to these experiments.
“They’ll sit and watch you do things again and again,” Head said.
Some of the experiments produce keepsakes for the children. In one of the biology experiments, the children make neurons out of candies which they can then keep. Another experiment turns pennies silver-colored, and the kids are allowed to take these home as well.
“They love anything they get to keep,” Head said.
The overall goal behind the shows is to instill an interest in science in the young children. Members hope that, above being able to just bring home a shiny silver penny, the kids will bring home their new-found excitement about science.
Junior Katie Howard, treasurer for Science Academy, described her favorite part of being involved in the shows.
“All the little kids are so excited about everything,” Howard said.
Howard also gave an invite to all non-science majors to come and participate in the shows. Science Academy encourages students majoring in science fields and those who aren’t, especially education majors, to come volunteer to conduct experiments or to simply help out with the shows.
“Bring your non-science-major friends,” Howard said.