Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

Lycoming College chemistry professors provide local students with hands-on STEM experience

Lycoming College chemistry professors provide local students with hands-on STEM experience

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Lycoming College chemistry professors recently connected with local schools to explore STEM issues that provide them with a basic understanding of everyday science. Through multiple partnerships, two Lycoming College chemistry faculty members conducted experiments alongside students in order to illustrate unique chemical reactions and offer valuable experience with intricate lab instrumentation.

“Society perceives math and science as difficult and inaccessible to them,” said Jeremy Ramsey, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry. “I want to show them that this is not true — while science can be challenging, it is also fun, vibrant, and accessible.”

Ramsey welcomes any opportunity he gets to share his chemistry knowledge with young people. Most recently, he visited Linntown Intermediate School in Lewisburg, Pa. “Disappearing water,” “ghost bubbles,” and “elephant’s toothpaste” are just a few of the many experiments Ramsey conducted with the help of fourth grade students. He kept his youthful audience engaged by employing the assistance of volunteers and encouraging students to predict the results of each experiment.

“Many people associate science and magic, so while I’d love if the demonstration only provided students with an interest in science, it’s also very important to foster the ability to understand the things we observe in our everyday lives,” Ramsay explained.

For Chriss McDonald, Ph.D., Frank and Helen Lowry Professor of chemistry, wanting to spark students’ interest in science comes from a passion for chemistry and education that he shares with Ramsey. For the past two years, he has partnered with both Loyalsock Township High School and Jersey Shore High School to provide AP students with an immersive chemistry experience at Lycoming. During a recent visit, McDonald guided Loyalsock students through experiments that are representative of the work they would be doing in college, giving them the opportunity to gain valuable insight on compound creation, purification, and characterization.

“It is crucial that they are exposed to some of the methods chemists use to determine the structure of molecules,” McDonald explains. “This can’t really be done in a high school setting, but it is something we can do quite well at Lycoming.”

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