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Visiting Middle School Students Get Hands on with Science
Posted: Monday, December 17, 2012

There’s no better way to learn more about science than getting your hands dirty. For some 60 students from in the seventh grade at Shawmont School, they did just that when they visited USciences for a "Day of Science" on Dec. 12, 2012.

Photo 1: Extracting strawberry DNA.
Photo 2: Students used detergent to help extract the strawberry DNA.
Photo 3: Dr. Catherine Bentzley pours the liquid nitrogen to start the freezing process for the ice cream.
Photo 4: Catherine Purzycki helps students separate the DNA.
Photo 5: Dr. Lois Peck makes a point during the presentation for extracting strawberry DNA.

The students extracted DNA from strawberries, learned about surface tension, made ice cream with liquid nitrogen, and participated in bio diversity and mathematics activities.

USciences faculty leading the activities included Biological Sciences Professor Dr. Lois Peck, Associate Chemistry Professor Dr. Catherine Bentzley, Biology Lecturer Catherine Purzycki, and Mathematics Lecturer Amy Kimchuk as well as help from several USciences undergraduate students. In addition to the activities, the students toured campus and received USciences backpacks with some giveaways.

"Sponsoring these activities is a wonderful way for USciences to remain connected to the broader community of education in Philadelphia,” said Dr. Peter B. Berget, professor and chair of biological sciences.  “Watching the eyes of these middle schoolers light up when they see DNA for the first time is a reminder of the real excitement and wonder of science."

Seventh grade teacher Charlene Jablow has been bringing students to USciences for at least the last three years. She participated in the Summer Institute for Middle Grade Science Teachers 2010 that was originally funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Jablow was able to bring science related activities back to the classroom, but more importantly develop and maintain a lasting relationship with USciences.

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