Wittenberg Saturday Science is an outreach program started last year that exposes area high school and home-schooled students to science and its many possibilities. Eight academic departments – biology, chemistry, computer science, geography, geology, mathematics, physics and psychology – are collaborating on the program, which is scheduled to run once a month during the school year.
Each program features a public presentation by a Wittenberg faculty member on an accessible science topic, likely something outside the typical high school curriculum. After a continental breakfast in the David L. Hobson Atrium, students then take part in a hands-on science experience led by current Wittenberg students and their professors.
"We are very happy with how the program started. Last semester brought more than 60 students to Wittenberg from 15 different area schools," said Adam Parker, assistant professor of mathematics. "Feedback from both parents and students has been positive. We look forward to continuing to reach out to area students and show them the beauty and usefulness of science."
Scholl's presentation will involve how trees can be used to reconstruct past climates and environmental events, including fires and tornadoes. Students will use tree rings to determine when a farm field at the University Field Station was abandoned and the surrounding forest started to expand into the field.
"Most people do not pay very much attention to trees on the landscape, beyond their visual appeal, shade, etc.," Scholl said. "I want to show students how much information about the environment is recorded in a tree. When trees can live to be several hundred to thousands of years, they literally become nature's historians."
Wittenberg Saturday Science is funded by a grant from Future Jobs, a regional workforce development program. Wittenberg is a partner with Future Jobs, and University President Mark H. Erickson is a member of its board of directors.
The 2009-10 Wittenberg Saturday Science program continues in December with a presentation by Assistant Professor of Physics Jeremiah Williams. Presentations were made during the spring 2009 semester by Parker, Associate Professor of Psychology Michael Anes, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Ray Dudek and Assistant Professor of Biology Michelle McWhorter. Fall presentations in the 2009-10 school year have been made by Professor of Geology and Chair of the Department John Ritter and Assistant Professor of Computer Science Steven Bogaerts.
There is no cost to participate in Wittenberg Saturday Science, and the public is welcome to attend the lecture portion. However, space is limited for the hands-on experience. To register for the event, go to http://www.wittenberg.edu/science-outreach. For more information, e-mails can be sent to email@example.com.
Written by: Ryan Maurer
Photo by: Erin Pence
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