Thursday, September 26, 2013

UNO Hosts Girl Scouts of Southeast Louisiana STEM Extravaganza

Thousands of girls from the greater New Orleans area converged at the University of New Orleans lakefront campus on Saturday aiming to learn more about science, technology engineering and mathematics.

Students and faculty from the UNO physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry, computer science and various engineering departments, as well as scientists from the University's Advanced Materials Research Institute and various social organizations led the girls through education workshops and hands-on experiments designed to let them know that STEM programs are interesting.

The five-hour STEM Extravaganza sponsored by the Girl Scouts of Southeast Louisiana ran from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21 at the University's Lakefront campus. The event helped educate approximately 3,000 young girls ages 7 to 11 about topics of interest that could be pathways to STEM fields. Organizations and volunteers from all over campus and the city participated.

Activities took place in 12 buildings on campus, serving as an excellent introduction to the University. In various corners were demonstrations hosted by organizations including the NASA John C. Stennis Space Center Presentation, Entergy Corporation, Alliance for Affordable Energy, The Blood Center, CH2M Hill, the New Orleans Pelicans, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Navy.

Representing UNO were the UNO Department of Electrical Engineering, the Society of Women Engineers, the University's Lego League, the UNO School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering School, the UNO Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, the UNO Department of Mathematics, the UNO Department of Computer Science, the UNO Department of Biology, the UNO Chemistry Department, the UNO Department of Physics and the UNO Advanced Materials Research Institute (UNO-AMRI). They worked in all corners of the campus, delivering presentations on careers in various fields and leading the schoolgirls through fun hands-on activities.

The UNO Physics Department, UNO-AMRI and Louisiana Alliance for Minority Participation (LAMP) delivered five physical science presentations in the Science Building, said Kevin Stokes, physics professor and department chair.

"In our three teaching laboratories, we had presentations with hands-on activities on the topics of 'Materials,' 'Electricity and Magnetism,' and 'The Physics of Sound and Music,' said Stokes. "In addition, the LAMP students demonstrated energy-conversion technologies including solar energy and wind power generation and graduate students from AMRI's Electron Microscopy lab had a nice presentation on imaging with electrons."

In all, 18 physics faculty and graduate students, undergraduate members of the Society for Physics Students and undergraduates in the LAMP program took part in the day, Stokes said. The volunteers explained electric power generation to Girl Scouts, demonstrated pressure by using liquid nitrogen to explode ping-pong balls outside the Earl K. Long Library, used an electron microscope image of an ant to demonstrate that much higher resolution is possible using electrons than with light, and helped Girl Scouts build an electric motor from a battery, a coil of wire, two safety pins and a small magnet.

Physics professor Juliette Ioup explained the science behind oscillations, waves, resonance and music. Physics graduate student Sunni Siqueira assisted, producing Chladni patterns which demonstrate the vibrational modes in musical instruments.


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