Making science fun
West Point Class of 2011 Cadet Michael Swayze provides an explosive demonstration to students and Families at Sacred Heart of Jesus School March 24 during a science fair.

WEST POINT, N.Y. (March 31, 2011) -- There's no formula or equation which proves science is fun. However, a group of West Point cadets and instructors went to Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Highland Falls, n.Y., March 24 to show students there it's true.

Transforming classrooms into hands-on workshops were representatives from Civil and Mechanical Engineering, Physics, Chemistry and Life Science, among others.

Cadets from the American Chemical Society club participated along with members of Gamma Sigma Epsilon (National Chemistry Honor Society at West Point), like West Point Class of 2011 Cadet Woo Do, GSE president and ACS vice president.

"Gamma Sigma Epsilon has been participating in this fair as well as other community outreach events for some time now," Do said. "The best part for me is watching how the kids react to the various experiments."

This was his second time visiting the science fair, which always reminds him of his love for science.

"I think that's one of the reasons why we as cadets enjoy doing this so much. These outreach events take us out of the classroom and allow us to engage with fun-loving, curious kids who will (hopefully) look back on the good time they had in their youth with their first exposure to science," Do said.

Students traveled throughout the school getting hair-raising exposure to static electricity in one room, riding a hovercraft in another and operating high-tech robotics, courtesy of cadets and officers from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

"The significance of this type of community outreach is to, hopefully, inspire younger students into science and technology," Maj. Christopher Lowrance, EECS instructor, said. "We let them operate the robots, teach them how it works and then explain how engineering makes it happen."

All eyes were on West Point Class of 2011 Cadet Michael Swayze every time he produced a fireball through a glass tube. Not to be outdone, other demonstrators captured the crowds' attention with multi-colored flames, liquid nitrogen-soaked balloons and giant bursts of foam (elephant's toothpaste).

"The more excited they get, the more excited I get, and then they get even more excited," Swayze, ACS president and GSE vice president, said. "It's an absolutely amazing cycle. At the end of the day, you can feel how much energy they pulled out of you, but it's still a very rewarding feeling. My favorite part is having the kids actually, even if in the slightest way, understand that this is not 'magic' and that they can get excited about science."

West Point is no stranger to community outreach, from both within the gates and beyond. Participation in the annual science fair is near and dear to the hearts of many cadets and instructors as a way to promote the national Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics initiative.

"We have also participated in the Tri-County science fair, chemistry demonstrations at Pine Tree Elementary School and an online judging of science projects," Do said.

So being no strangers to the subject of science, can these cadets actually prove science is fun'

"There are plenty of equations that prove it ... but what makes it fun is a dash of excitement, a touch of motivation and a lot of curiosity," Swayze said.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16