NOBCChE sends sparks of STEM to local students

Even during the pandemic, the WSU Chapter of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers has used its time and talents to help local educators stress the importance of chemistry.

The chapter’s new K-12 Committee began collaborating with Cass Tech chemistry teacher Felicia Benson to help students prepare for the AP Chemistry exam. Volunteers helped students work through example problems, provided feedback on their approaches, and helped them improve their problem-solving skills.

Committee members also showcased virtual demonstrations and discussions at Osborn High School. One presentation featured the chemical and physical changes that occur when a Cheeto is set ablaze. Another presentation demonstrated how to model molecules using computer software, giving students a different perspective on chemistry. The chapter also invited WSU alumnus Edward Thomas to present on COVID-19 vaccines, giving students an opportunity to engage with a professional chemist.

Finally, in February 2021, the chapter launched a monthly experiment series for students from the Mark Murray Campus of the University Preparatory Academy Elementary School. Students used Zoom to carry out experiments at home, creating self-propelling cars from plastic bottles, bouncy eggs, self-inflating balloons, samples of DNA extracted from strawberries, and acid/base tests of household products using red cabbage pH indicator.

In the future, the chapter plans to facilitate tutoring sessions, career talks, and experiment sessions. Email for more information about the chapter. The chapter is also active on Twitter (@WSU_NOBCCHE), Instagram (@wsunobcche), and Facebook (@wsunobcche).

By Cathleen Saraza

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