Outreach News

2017 Connecticut Middle School Science Bowl

Science Bowl audienceOn Saturday, February 25, 2017, the Connecticut Regional Middle School Science Bowl event welcomed approximately 200 students and coaches—and their family members—to UConn for a day of learning and friendly competition. The Middle School Science Bowl is a fast-paced, question-and-answer-style event that emphasizes the importance of STEM education. This year, 32 teams from 19 different middle schools throughout Connecticut participated in the Science Bowl competition where they answered questions in the fields of biology, chemistry, Earth and space science, physics, and math. It is through the Science Bowl that students are able to engage in a challenging academic competition with peers that share a similar passion for science.

The Connecticut Middle School Science Bowl is hosted by the UConn Chemistry Department and organized by Assistant Professor in Residence Joe DePasquale and Program Assistants Aneesa Bey and Ashley Orcutt. This event would not be possible without the assistance of approximately 85 volunteers who donate their time to prepare for and participate in this exciting competition. Among the volunteers are undergraduate students, graduate students, alumni, and local high school students. Many of the volunteers are STEM-based majors who share the same affinity and aptitude for science as the young competitors.

The Department of Chemistry would like to thank Gerber Technology, the UConn College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, and the UConn Institute of Materials Science for their support. The Department would also like to thank the UConn School of Engineering Diversity & Outreach Center, Connecticut Science Center, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Subway Restaurant for their contributions to this event as well.

The top teams of the day were:

First Place: Talcott Mountain Academy (Avon, CT)
Second Place: Middlesex Middle School (Darien, CT)
Semi-Finalist: Cloonan Middle School (Stamford, CT)
Semi-Finalist: Irving A. Robbins Middle School (Farmington, CT)

Talcott Mountain Academy will represent Connecticut’s middle schools at the National Science Bowl competition in Washington, D.C. April 27 – May 1.

The National Science Bowl is a nationwide academic competition hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy. “The National Science Bowl® continues to be one of the premier academic competitions across the country and prepares America’s students for future successes in some of the world’s fastest growing fields in science, technology, and engineering,” said Dr. J. Stephen Binkley, Acting Director of the Department’s Office of Science, which sponsors the nationwide competition, now in its 27th year. “Each year the DOE Office of Science provides this unique opportunity, and I am honored to congratulate all the competitors who are advancing to the national finals, where they will continue to showcase their talents as top students in math and science.” More than 14,000 students compete in the NSB each year.

More information can be found on the CT Middle School Science Bowl website and the National Science Bowl website.

Chain Reaction: NSF Programs Are Initiators of Chemist’s Success

Jennifer Bento

Author Jennifer Bento is a graduate student in the Polymer Program at UConn in the research group of Chemistry Professor Doug Adamson. In her reflection below, Jen describes the implications on her career path that resulted from her participation in the UConn chemistry REU program. She connects this experience to choosing UConn for graduate school, and her subsequent success in garnering a prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

I received my undergraduate education at Simmons College in Boston where I earned a B.S. in Chemistry and Physics in 2011. During my undergraduate career, I was a teacher’s assistant, a study group leader and an ambassador through Beyond Benign in a Green Chemistry Fellowship program that performed outreach at local Boston public schools. As a Beyond Benign fellow, I was able to work with undergraduates at my institution and meet fellow scientists at local colleges and/or universities in the Boston area. Together we performed hands-on activities with students in grades K-12. I hope that our efforts motivated the students to continue their education in STEM fields. I also helped students at Simmons learn organic chemistry in my role as a TA/study group leader. These fulfilling experiences with students have inspired me to pursue a career as a college professor. My research advisor at Simmons, Dr. Richard Gurney, encouraged me to apply to a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program sponsored by the NSF to gain further research experience at a PhD-granting institution and to get a sense of what being a graduate student would feel like. I applied and was accepted to the UConn Chemistry REU the summer before my senior year of college. UConn was able to offer exciting research with a successful REU student track record. Continue reading

The Magic of Science

UConn Today

FoStudents playing with silly puddyr three weeks during May and June, a group of UConn graduate and undergraduate science and education majors have been engaged in something magical. They have been getting middle school students absorbed in chemistry.

Known as the UConn Science Wizards, the college students gave hands-on polymer chemistry demonstrations at inner-city and rural middle schools around Connecticut. They took a playful approach to teaching science, using a polymer the middle schoolers could relate to: Silly Putty.

“I love the program!” said Michelle Goodwin, science teacher at East Hartford Middle School. “It really gets the students excited about science.” Continue reading