Morning Sun
  • Science Day activities put students to the test

  • Students from across the four-state region put their knowledge of science to the test in a series of competitions at Pittsburg State University.

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  • Students from across the four-state region put their knowledge of science to the test in a series of competitions at Pittsburg State University.
    “This is really our way of stimulating interest in science,” said Peter Chung, who teaches microbiology at Pittsburg State University and helped to coordinate the Science Day event.
    He said Science Day is a three-legged stool and offers competitions in chemistry, physics and biology.
    “We send invitations to over 100 different high schools,” Chung said. “It’s a huge event.”
    He said traditionally the event has taken place in late April but it was moved up this year. Chung added that there have been some conflicts with state basketball competitions and the event may be moved even earlier in coming years.
    “We had a few schools that couldn’t make it,” he said.
    Still, more than 600 students attended the activities and tested their science skills, which Chung said is a great thing for sciences and for Pitt State.
    “This is really where our future is,” he said. “We want them to come to Pitt State.”
    Students who attended Thursday were eager to show the talents they can contribute as they go forward.
    “My teacher asked me if I wanted to come over and take come tests to see how good I am,” said Alex Burnett, a senior at Carl Junction.
    Burnett participated in the Biology Bowl written tests first thing in the morning and said he had other tests on his schedule later.
    Teacher Jean Miller said she brought 17 students from College Heights Christian School in Joplin, including seven who competed in physics events and 10 who did chemistry.
    She watched intently as her students attempted to make tall, freestanding towers out of a single sheet of paper and 50 centimeters of tape.
    Miller said she is a Pitt State alumna and enjoys bring students back to her alma mater.
    “It’s kind of fun to come back,” she said.
    William Estep is a senior at College Heights and said he had never practiced the paper tower challenge before, but that he and team member Amy Johnson ended up with a double tripod with a reinforced tower that did stand up, but didn’t win the height competition.
    Some schools came to compete against other schools, but Liberal High School science teacher Pam Clemensen’s students came with internal rivalries as well.
    “My kids won’t care where they place as long as they beat each other,” she said.
    Six of her physics students attended and competed in the seismic shaker and mousetrap car competitions.
    She said one thing they had learned on the seismic shaker competition is that the foundation is the key factor, a lesson that Clemensen said applies to all of education and life.
    Page 2 of 2 - Roman Moody and Eli Short, two of Clemensen’s students, said their mousetrap car didn’t go as expected when the vehicle veered to the left on two different runs, and they tried to apply some creative physics principles when explaining the situation.
    “It was the magnet in the wall,” Moody said.
    He said they had similar issues at the school, but thought they had straightened things out.
    However, it wasn’t their final shot. Clemensen said her students would be boarding a bus to use what they learned at Pitt State as they attended another science competition later in the day.

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