BRANDON, MB — Dr. Mark Berry and his colleagues in the Chemistry Department hosted elementary and high school students in three of Brandon University’s laboratories this week. More than 250 Grade 4 to 6 students and almost 150 Grade 11 and 12 students, from Brandon schools as well as from Douglas, Rivers, Deloraine, Grandview, Elkhorn, Erickson and Birtle, learned from the University experts and applied some of their new knowledge in carefully monitored experiments.
“Initial feedback has been exceedingly positive,” said Dr. Berry. “All the kids seemed to enjoy themselves, and we were incredibly impressed with their interest and fantastic attitude.”
Each of the participants took home something they had concocted during their lab session. During their half-day in the laboratory, the elementary-level groups witnessed a variety of demonstrations as well as took part in hands-on experiments. Some of these included isolating and converting milk proteins into putty, making slime and Bakelite, and converting a penny into “silver” and “gold”. The grand finale for these sessions was the popular “gummy bear torture chamber.”
The high-school level groups spent an entire day in the lab, during which they had the opportunity to perform university-level experiments. Along with learning the theory and mechanism of their experiments, the students also conducted the experiments that explored different aspects of Chemistry.
“It fits very well with the curriculum and the students found it very interesting,” said Vincent Massey High School chemistry teacher, Ashley Dyson, who is already planning to visit again next year. “They got to see a fourth-year student working on a project that has real-world applications and commercial spin-off. As well, it gave them an idea of what to expect in university.”
All of the available Brandon University Chemistry Department members — Dr. Sam Yan, Dr. Bryan Hill, Dr. Tadesse Mengistu, Dr. Adrian Weber, Kathy Nichol, Dr. Martin Lemaire and Dr. Berry — were involved in this week of activities. As well, one Brandon University student — Kendra Elliott — took time off from work and drove in from Virden one day to help out.
“I’d personally like to thank all the school groups who participated and made this such a success,” said Dr. Berry. “I’d also like to thank the members of the Chemistry department for volunteering their time for this. All of them have expressed how impressed they were with the participants, and we are already planning new activities for next year’s event.”