By Denise Dick
Bubbles, cookies and math typically aren’t things that go together, but they’re all part of the STEM Explore program at Youngstown State University.
Twenty-six sixth- through eighth-graders signed up for the program this week, after 26 others participated last week.
“We had a waiting list for both weeks,” said Kathleen Cripe, professor in teacher education at YSU,
This marks the second year for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Explore program, which draws middle-school students from throughout the Mahoning Valley.
She said the idea is to expose young people to the STEM fields and spark their interest in them.
“If a student comes out of this with an interest in science, technology, engineering and math — or any one of those — then we’ve done our job,” said Robert Korenic, assistant professor of civil and construction engineering technology.
Cripe, Korenic and Sherri Lovelace- Cameron, associate professor of chemistry, organize the program, which is funded through YSU’s STEM College.
On Monday, students focused on math, measuring the diameter and circumference of different circular objects in a classroom inside the Beeghly College of Education.
Dean Austalosh and Nikita Klimis, both 12 and in seventh grade at Campbell Middle School, measured each other’s heads as part of the exercise, wrapping string, marking the place and measuring it with a ruler.
Dean’s head measured 46 centimeters. There wasn’t enough string to fit around Nikita’s head, though.
“His is too big,” Dean said, laughing.
Both boys participated in last year’s program, too.
“It was fun last year, and they said it was going to be different this year,” Dean said.
“It was a lot of fun last year,” he said.
The program has been a hit so far.
“They’re excited and they don’t want to leave,” Cripe said.
One student last week brought his grandfather to show him what he was doing.
Chocolate-chip cookies, a spigot, a cup and a milk-jug cap provided other items to measure for Izzy Kuzle, 11, a sixth-grader at Austintown Middle School.
She signed up for STEM Explore at her mother’s suggestion.
“She said, ‘Maybe it’s something you and your friends could do together,’” Izzy said.
Her classmate, Robbie Berarducci, 11, an AMS sixth-grader, signed up.
“I thought it would be interesting,” he said.
He’s looking forward to building a solar car and a pasta bridge later this week. Korenic said those are this year’s engineering and technology projects.
It took a couple of tries, but Syied Bowers, 13, an eighth-grader in Chaney’s STEM program, was able to blow a bubble onto a piece of construction paper that lasted long enough to leave a mark. He was then able to measure its circumference.
Syied signed up for the program as a way to get ready for STEM classes next year, which will be his first at Chaney.
Seven recent current students or recent graduates — Ashley Teagarden, Megan Ferraro, Mike Geffert, Paul Cornelius, Kevin Rush, Nicole Lariccia and Kristen Sutton — from YSU’s education college are leading the middle schoolers through the exercises.
“They’ve been wonderful,” Cripe said. “We couldn’t do it without them.”