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College of Sciences and Mathematics Hosts High School Lab Days, Reaches Over 200 Students

girl, wearing safety goggles, smiling and holding a test tubeIn a continued tradition of community outreach and educational events, the College of Sciences and Mathematics (CSM) at Belmont University hosted a number of high school laboratory and science-based experiences for area students. The CSM faculty and staff are dedicated to introducing high school students to advanced laboratory techniques and the inter-connectivity found between the sciences, business, social sciences and the humanities. More than 200 students participated in the lectures, laboratory exercises and expositions throughout 2017. These STEM centered activities are slated for continuation in 2018 as high school students are given the opportunity to explore new, faculty-led laboratory exercises and take on the challenges of hypothesis-driven research.

One event hosted 45 A.P. Chemistry students from three different area high schools in an interactive lecture on titrations led by event organizer Dr. Danielle Garrett, assistant professor of chemistry education. The program also held a high school psychology camp thanks to Dr. Linda Jones’s senior capstone project. Jones, chair of the department of psychological science, led 20 A.P. Psychology students in week-long projects involving psychological experimentation techniques and statistical analysis. These students then designed their capstone project, which is required for graduation from Metro Nashville schools, with these tools in mind. Currently, all 20 students are utilizing borrowed equipment to run experimental subjects in their own high schools. Jones and her colleagues engage students monthly and the high school partners will present their findings at the Belmont Undergraduate Research Symposium in April.

Additionally, Dr. Lori McGrew, biology professor, hosted alumnus and Davidson Academy science teacher Jim Garrett in her neuropharmacology research lab. Garrett and two of his current students utilized Danio rerio (zebrafish) to investigate learning and memory. With the students’ help, Davidson Academy plans to establish their own zebrafish colony. The work completed by Garrett and his students will also facilitate collaborative data collection between Davidson Academy and Belmont.

Perhaps the biggest event of the semester was the “Celebrating the Women of Physical Science” outreach event for high school students, coordinated by the Department of Chemistry and Physics STEM Committee. The event provided a tour of the chemistry and physics labs, a hands-on chemistry activity, a physics demo and presentation, a talk on “The Legacy of Marie Curie” and a keynote address titled, “With the Right Shoes You Can Do Anything.” Fifty high school students from 15 schools in Middle Tennessee attended.

boy conducting a science experimentFinally, Dr. Steve Murphree, biology professor, coordinates free laboratory experiences for the home-schooled community of Middle Tennessee and conducted two programs in 2017. In November, home-schooled children were able to investigate animal behavior during the program titled, “Explorations in Animal Behavior – Betta Fish.”  In December, students were able to compare human anatomy to that of cartilaginous fish in an exercises titled, “Shark Anatomy.”  In October, a group of 150 middle school students from Lead Academy Middle School toured Belmont’s science labs.

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