Bradley University’s Lab Day brings great success

May 3, 2011

When talking about Bradley University’s National Lab Network event, you can sense the excitement and satisfaction in the voice of Susie Stear, project specialist with the Bradley Center for STEM Education. 

“What was really neat were how the Bradley education students interacted with the fourth graders from Glen Oak,” Stear said. “They really formed a good bond from teacher to student.”

The second annual lab event, which took place April 15th, hosted approximately 110 fourth grade students from Glen Oak School along with their teachers. The day started at 10 a.m. in the Marty Theatre with an informational session.

The students were then divided into teams of ten and each team was coupled with a Bradley University education student who served as team leader and led the students through different stations. One of the Bradley professors, a Bradley student, or another industry professional guided the students through a variety of activities.

“For one of their activities, they were on the quad and did the Mentos experiment,” Stear said.  “They poured Mentos in soda, then it squirted into a big fountain and exploded. The kids really liked that.”

Other experiments included Alka-Seltzer poppers, soil, DNA extraction, flowers and ultra-violet beads. Students also had the opportunity to try computer programming, test the stability of boats, and study light emission in physics. All were designed to be hands-on activities to get the students involved.

Michelle Edgcomb Friday, a faculty member in Bradley’s Department of Biology and an event organizer, was also pleased with how the event turned out.

“It went well,” Friday said. “We have been getting some very positive feedback both from our students who volunteered for the events and from our faculty as well. We’ve even been getting some secondhand feedback from the grade school students who participated.”

Friday then shared her intentions for the event.

“What we try to do is bring more hands-on acts of science to local grade school children,” Friday said.  “Local school districts can be limited both with time and equipment. Equipment is something we have that we can give students experience with.”

Bradley biology major and event coordinator Joey Philipp shared his thoughts after interacting with the children.

“I think that the event is a great opportunity for underprivileged students to get exposure to two things that haven't necessarily been a part of their lives:  science and college,” Philpp said. “Even a few hours here at Bradley doing hands-on science can make a huge impact on the students' lives as it can be a great motivator for going to college.”

One of the teachers from Glen Oak School, Lindsay Diederich, agreed with Philipp.

“The students thoroughly enjoyed the National Lab Day experience last week,” Diederich said. “I noticed that the students were engaged and on task. I think the students especially liked getting to do some real hands-on activities while learning about the different science topics.”

The event also left a lasting impression on a young student.

"I've always liked science, but now I like it even more,” said the student.