PITTSBURG — Pittsburg State University’s Science Day, which draws more than 600 students from more than two dozen area high schools and one community college, was originally scheduled for late February before being postponed because of bad weather.
Instead, students converged on PSU’s campus on Thursday, April 11, for the multi-disciplinary day of scientific competitions. Science day is organized as a collaborative effort of the biology, physics, and chemistry departments at PSU.
Highlights of this year’s Science Day included a paper tower competition, biology bowl, wildlife quizzes, cadaver demonstrations, and a Physics and Earth and Space Awards Ceremony.
Other events included a mousetrap car competition, in which students built small model cars powered only by the springing of a mousetrap. Many used items such as CDs as wheels to keep their vehicles light weight.
“Really it’s whatever material they want to use, whatever they have available,” said physics graduate student Brendan Schmitz, who was helping students to get their mouse trap cars set up and to referee the distance competition in the 3rd floor hallway of PSU’s Yates Hall on Thursday. “The only technical rule is the only power can be from the mouse trap itself,” Schmitz said, “so no extra rubber bands or springs or, you know, no electricity or no battery driven anything.”
Down the hall, a group of graduate and undergraduate students was examining model Mars colonies designed by high school students to judge them on the uniqueness, completeness, efficiency, and visibility of their design, presentation and style, and labeling and explanation.
Kyla Scarborough, who teaches classes in astronomy and earth and space science at PSU,
said had there were more Mars colony models in the competition than last year.
“There’s some good science in the descriptions,” Scarborough said. “A lot of the students included descriptions with their colonies and if you look at them there are good ways to get their water, good ways to dispose of waste, good ways to provide food.”
At PSU’s Heckert-Wells Hall, Rachel Styers, president of the university’s Wildlife and Fisheries Society, was administering wildlife quizzes on Thursday.
“These are all specimens that are owned by the university that are used as teaching tools here for our students,” she said. “Right now we’re using them as a wildlife ID quiz so that we can test the students’ knowledge of things that are mostly native to our area. There are a few that are kind of little bit trick questions, but other than that it’s mostly just seeing if they know what’s around them right now.”
Around the corner from the wildlife quiz room, McAuley Catholic High School students were waiting to see the next round of cadaver demonstrations as part of their human anatomy and physiology classes. Senior Ben Borgmeyer said he is planning on going into business rather than a field where he will put the experience of seeing a cadaver demonstration to practical use, but that he nonetheless expected it to be interesting.
“I think it’s going to be kind of strange to see it and know that it was actually a real living person,” Borgmeyer said, “but it’s kind of neat that they donated their body to science.”