By Crystal Wylie
Register News Writer
RICHMOND — Budding scientists, complete with protective eyewear and lab coats that nearly reached the floor, tested substances to find out which one produced the most ethanol as they explored renewable energy.
Another group of young forensic scientists pressed non-drying plastilina clay into casts of real skulls to simulate the skin and tissue of a human face.
Around 50 middle school-aged students participated this week in the Eastern Kentucky University College of Education and STEM-H Institute’s “Soar to New Heights” summer camp for gifted and talented students.
The camp was a collaboration between STEM-H (science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health) faculty and graduate students who are completing requirements for a gifted and talented education course taught by Vickie Moberly, who served as camp director.
The weeklong camp offered a variety of courses that explored every STEM-H area. Most courses were conducted in EKU’s New Science Building.
Graduate student and Model Laboratory School art teacher Sheila Lippman teamed up with EKU dance instructor Dr. Marianne McAdam for the “This is your Brain: Get Movin’!” class.
The instructors led students through the Brain Dance, which is composed of eight fundamental movement patterns that human beings normally move through in their first year of life.
The dance is derived from a theory that one can repattern or reorganize the central nervous system by performing the eight movements, McAdam said.
“Kids today aren’t moving as much as they used to,” she said.
Students also formed a drum circle and talked about how it felt to fall into tempo together.
During the “Renewable & Alternative Fuel Technologies” course, students combined yeast with flasks of water, pine shavings and corn syrup to discover which produced the most ethanol.
Students placed balloons over the opening of the flask to capture the carbon dioxide produced in the mixture. The substance that created the most carbon dioxide also created the most ethanol, said instructor Gary Selby, who teamed up with graduate students Scott Brown and Tammy Cole.
The student teams jotted down data in notebooks and took measurements of the balloons. They all concluded that corn syrup produced the most ethanol.
Down the hall, graduate student Noelle McGill showed students how to recreate a face in the “Put A Face On It” forensic facial reconstruction class.
As an art teacher in Virginia, McGill became certified in facial reconstruction and partnered with an anatomy and physiology teacher to integrate science into her curriculum.
“This was art that could be done in the work force,” McGill said.
With the advent of DNA testing, forensic facial reconstruction has become less popular in missing persons investigations, she said, but many museums use this art to create various human displays.
However, when DNA is not available, such as when very old skeletons are discovered, clay facial reconstruction is used, she said. The face could then be publicized so families can identify missing loved ones.
Other classes explored the relationship between sports and physics; the great outdoors with a variety of technologies; crime scene investigation; where food comes from; careers in healthcare; the distinct characteristics of bodies of water; and LEGO robots.
Crystal Wylie can be reached at email@example.com or 623-1669, Ext. 6696.