College hosts fifth graders for annual Meet a Scientist Day

Professor Katy Lustofin during Meet a Scientist Day

Marietta College’s Dr. Katy Lustofin was either going for the wow factor or the fear factor during Thursday’s Meet a Scientist Day.

Lustofin, Associate Professor of Biology, showed the 189 fifth graders who participated on the College’s campus a hissing cockroach, a cicada and a turtle.

“I love how excited the students are about everything, especially the live animals I show them,” she said. “I visit some of these students in their classrooms in the fall, so it is nice to reciprocate and show them my classroom and my ‘critters.’ ”  

Tasha Werry, Grant Coordinator for Marietta City Schools, said the (MC)² Science Collaborative between Marietta College and Marietta City Schools has been running for six years and the Meet a Scientist Day is just a small part of the program.

“The collaborative connects teachers from Marietta City Schools and science professors from Marietta College in order to enhance the elementary science program, as well as to provide hands-on activities with resources not available to elementary science programs,” Werry said. “All students in K-5 at all four elementary schools participate in field trips to Marietta College and in-class experiments with the professors, and sometimes college student helpers.”

Werry said the Meet a Scientist Day field trip is a culminating experience for all fifth grade students that allows them to tour the campus and visit six different science professors to learn about the career pathways in the science field.

“The highlight of the day is always lunch in the Gilman Dining Hall,” Werry said. “This year’s fifth grade class is the first to experience the program every year since Kindergarten. This means that they have interacted with Dr. Lustofin, Dr. (Kevin) Pate, Dr. (Dave) Jeffery and Dr. (Ann) Bragg, and now will be exposed to five more professors during Meet a Scientist Day.”

The (MC)²  program is included in the umbrella of career awareness activities and programs provided by the countywide initiative, Building Bridges to Careers.

Robin Stewart, Grants, Foundation & Corporate Gift Officer at the College, was excited to see the program for the first time.

“Our faculty enjoy engaging with students and sharing their passion and knowledge of science. (MC)² exposes students to a variety of science disciplines and helps them realize that their interest in cool/fun science experiments  can lead to a college degree and rewarding career in the future,” she said. “For many students, Meet a Scientist Day is their first learning experience on a college campus. It is our hope the program begins to lay the foundation for their future educational and professional aspirations.” 

Lustofin agrees.

“I enjoy the opportunity to chat individually with the students,” she said. “And hopefully, a few of them start to think about becoming a biologist and maybe even coming to Marietta College.” 

Stewart said next year, the (MC)² collaborative hopes to partner with local businesses.

“Partnerships with local science-focused companies allow us to build sustainability for the program and demonstrate to students that viable career opportunities are available right here in Marietta and the surrounding area,” she said.