Students were fascinated by what Professor Larry Weiskirch brought to McKinley-Brighton Elementary School and the information he was sharing. Weiskirch, who is Chair of OCC’s Biology department, showed students two mannequins with their internal organs exposed and explained how the human body works. “This is the heart. The heart is a muscle that pushes the blood through your body. Have you ever felt your pulse before? That’s the heart beating, pushing blood through your body.” As Weiskirch spoke, students tried to feel their pulse.
Weiskirch was participating in McKinley-Brighton’s STEAM event. STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math. More than 150 students in grades 2 through 5 attended. As they entered each received a free OCC backpack and a “passport” which listed the different stations within the event. Each time a student visited a station their passport was marked. Students who visited six stations received an OCC wristband.
OCC Professor Fred Jaquin showed off interactive displays at another station. Jaquin is Chair of the Chemistry and Physical Science departments. He showed students how the earth’s magnetic field helps protect us from potentially damaging solar winds generated by the sun. The magnets he brought with him for students to experiment with were very popular.
Chemistry Professors Dr. Cynthia Hennessy and Barbara Leo demonstrated the concept of sublimation to students. They used balloons to show how a solid can be transformed directly into a gas while bypassing the liquid phase. Their presence helped showed female students at McKinley-Brighton the opportunities which exist for women in science.
The star attraction at the event was Andrew Cleary, an electrical engineer from Lockheed Martin who was invited by Olin Stratton, OCC’s Dean of Natural and Applied Sciences. Cleary showed students how a Tesla Coil works. The electrical resonant transformer circuit created colorful sparks which resembled miniature bolts of lightning and drew many “oohs” and “aahs” from students. Cleary moved a fluorescent light bulb near the Tesla Coil and it became illuminated. He also brought miniature battery and solar powered robots for students to experiment with.
OCC’s involvement with McKinley-Brighton is the product of a partnership aimed at helping students think about career opportunities and higher education. College administrators have also worked with students on journal making, qualities which make outstanding leaders and making superheroes. Their superhero artwork was turned into signs in the newly renovated Coulter Library on OCC’s campus.