ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. -- With the full attention of more than 400 local middle school students, Army scientists lit the fuse of imagination and excitement, demonstrating the "Magic of Science" May 11 at the 5th Edgewood Middle School Career Expo.

The U.S. Army Research, Development and Engineering Command's chemical and biological center supported Project DREAM Work Aca,!aEURc a Harford Community College partnership program Aca,!aEURc with the event.

Demonstrating the importance and excitement of a future career path in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to 8th-grade students, the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center's participation was funded by the National Defense Education Program.

Army scientists offered 410 Edgewood Middle School students their expertise, provided career insight and interacted with them during a hands-on science demonstration Ac"a,! the Magic of Science.

"This Career Expo is a moving opportunity for students to recognize their own potential and skills, and apply them to the different occupations," said Edgewood Middle School Student Counselor Peg Taibi. "We are thankful ECBC participated again this year and contributed to the event's success by sharing the Magic of Science with our students."

Exhibiting real-life environmental bacteria samples, ECBC Research Biologists Lalena Wallace and Lisa Smith taught the students about the existence of biological phenomena in every-day life and explained the process of collecting, culturing and identifying bacteria to them.

Additionally, Wallace and Smith invited students to participate in a 30-second contest allowing them to apply their pipetting skills Aca,!aEURc one of the most basic and important activities in a biology lab. The hands-on experiment challenged students to use precision while transferring sample liquid from a container into the small tubes, and to compete against their friends.

"This type of activity was really fun," said Edgewood Middle School student Brittany Crabill, who won the pipetting contest against her two girlfriends Chaelin Despres and Edith Gathura. "I didn't realize how much fun biology can be and would actually consider working in this field."

Taking the science experience at Edgewood Middle School a notch up, ECBC Scientists Ken Collins, Ph.D., Mike Ellzy, Ph.D., Mike Feasel and Terry Roop showed 47 8th-grade students Aca,!aEURc selected by their science teachers to participate in this scientist-in-the-classroom event.

"Our daily life depends on our current science and technology, which you might want to be a part of one day," Collins said introducing ECBC's Magic of Science demonstration. "I've wanted to be a chemist since second grade, and these types of presentations helped inspire me to follow through with my plan. So, we hope to spark your inspiration today and will give you some fun and interesting science facts."

Collins, Ellzy, Feasel and Roop waved their magical science wands over the group of students Aca,!aEURc assembled in Edgewood Middle School's gymnasium and each of them equipped with a pair of science goggles.

Revealing their scientific secrets, ECBC's chemists fascinated the crowd of students with the effects of chemical reactions, temperature changes and pressure displacements on different types of materials.

"My favorite part of this presentation was to watch how liquid nitrogen made racquet balls shatter, roses crumble and balloons shrink," said Edgewood Middle School 8th-grader Devon Avery. "I really liked what I saw and want to be a biological, electrical or software engineer one day Aca,!aEURc preferably for the Army."

While immersed into the world of science, the students remained completely silent during ECBC's performance sequences, but volunteered to assist in experiments with enthusiasm.

"I don't know when I have last seen our eighth-graders this attentive and engaged," said Edgewood Middle School Principal Lawrence Rudolph, Ed.D. "It was obvious how much they enjoyed this learning experience, and I am very grateful for ECBC's support in encouraging our students to pursue a STEM-related career path."

But ECBC's performing scientists enjoyed reaching out to Edgewood Middle School's students and sparking their interest in science and technology at least as much as the students.

"To get out of our labs and share our passion for science with the students is extremely rewarding," said Feasel. "And, to see how much fun the students had with each of our science demonstrations and how they engaged in the hands-on activities made the event even more amazing."

Project DREAM Work Program Director Mindy Costanzo-Romero was very pleased with the outcome of this year's Edgewood Middle School Career Expo, recognizing ECBC's Magic of Science as a valuable addition to the event.

"We began working with ECBC four years ago when they supported our first Career Expo, and they have continued to be an incredible partner," Costanzo-Romero said. "ECBC has played a vital role in helping Edgewood Middle School students make the connection between school and work, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math. The Magic of Science presentation today was an exciting experience for the students."