As hundreds of college students have migrated off Hamilton's campus at the end of the semester, a younger, quite energetic, crowd occasionally fills the void. On Wednesday, June 7, and Thursday, June 8, third-graders from Hughes Elementary School and Clinton Elementary School, respectively, visited the Taylor Science Center.
As part of ongoing outreach with local public schools, faculty from the psychology, chemistry, physics, biology and geosciences departments hosted approximately 80 students per day, packing a variety of scientific disciplines into four interactive, 30-minute seminars.
On Wednesday, after a welcome and introduction by Silas D. Childs Professor of Biology David Gapp, Professor of Psychology Jennifer Borton entranced the students with a brief psychology presentation, leaving them captivated as they were split into smaller groups to begin the multi-departmental rotations.
WUTR, the ABC-affiliated television station for Central New York's Mohawk Valley, produced the story "Third Graders From Hughes Elementary Explore Science."
Director of Laboratories Shawna O’Neil led the chemistry lab, introducing the elementary school students to a series of activities involving liquid nitrogen. With the aid of Hamilton students, the third-graders explored the effects of temperature on gas volume, watching as a party balloon shriveled when doused in liquid nitrogen and swelled when reintroduced to room-temperature air. After shattering flash-frozen flower petals, the excited group moved on to their final experiment: creating their very own slime.
In keeping with the hands-on program, the student put their slime away to handle a variety of shells, starfish and other ancient sea-life archeological artifacts in the biology teaching lab. The younger students explored the world of physiology with Gapp, handling “beasts” which exhibited the physical characteristics they were learning about. By observing the various fish, reptiles and even arthropods that inhabit Gapp’s lab, the students gained a visual understanding of newly learned concepts.
The students also spent a portion their day with Director of Physics Labs Adam Lark, studying the properties and effects of air pressure. Finally, the day concluded with a rousing surprise for the group: a volcanic eruption. As the mesmerized students watched from the steps, Professor of Geosciences Dave Bailey catalyzed the reaction that left foamy “lava” flying high into the air.