Curious fifth graders spend the day with Marietta’s scientists

Friends Baylee Brown and Vanessa Wilson were pumped up for class, sitting in the front row and wondering what they would learn about for the next 30 minutes.


The floor littered with fragments of colorful balloons and the smell of smoke still lingering in the air, the two fifth-grade girls knew it had to be something good.


“You’ll just have to wait and see,” said Dr. Kevin Pate, McCoy Associate Professor of Chemistry at Marietta College, as he prepped his lab table with more balloons and other ingredients he’d need for his eighth and final presentation of the day.


Pate and other faculty who teach sciences at Marietta took part in the Meet a Scientist Day on Thursday, May 10. Part of the (MC)2 program, the day was made possible through funding by the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation and the Marietta Community Foundation. Pate and Drs. Dave Jeffery and Ann Bragg partnered with Tasha Werry last year to form (MC)2. Werry is the RttT/TIF Grant Coordinator and Collaborative Learning practitioner for the Marietta City Schools District.


Fifth-grade students from Washington, Putnam, Harmar and Phillips schools in Marietta were invited to take part in the Meet a Scientist Day at Marietta College.


“Today we focused on talking about the different careers you can have in science,” Pate said. “I spent the first part of my class talking about what chemists can do.”


Pate talked to students about testing various hypotheses, asking them to predict what would happen to three different balloons filled with three different types of materials. Though students assumed the final balloon was filled with helium because it was floating on a string, they soon learned it was filled with the more combustible gas, hydrogen. It was a loud lesson to learn.


Wilson, who attends Putnam School, hopes to be a dentist one day and particularly enjoyed Bragg’s astronomy presentation.


“It’s been a really fun day,” Wilson said. “I’ve learned a lot about science today.”


Brown also enjoyed the various presentations held throughout campus.


“I want to be an orthodontist,” she said. “I liked being in the greenhouse with Professor (Dave) Brown and I also liked learning about nervous energy from Professor (Andy) Grimm.”


Grimm, who teaches in the Petroleum Engineering and Geology Department, talked to children about sustainable energy sources and joked that he had plenty of nervous energy. He showed classes of students how certain regions of the world utilized efficient and readily available energy sources to serve their needs. One such example is Hawaii’s push for solar energy.


“There is no coal for them to mine and shipping oil is expensive. Hawaii gets plenty of sun. Sunshine is free,” Grimm said. “You just have to buy and install the solar panels.”


Washington School student Ellie Smith enjoyed playing with the dynamo-powered flashlight and was impressed when Grimm talked about the world’s largest wind turbine, which generates 7+ megawatts per year. The rotor spans more than 400 feet in diameter and sits atop a 500-foot base.


“Still, my favorite form of energy is geothermal,” she said. “But the windmill at the College is pretty neat.”


Across the hall, Associate Professor Ben Ebenhack talked to students about petroleum engineering careers and how important it is for everyone to carefully monitor their energy consumption.


“Today I’m talking to kids about why they care about energy and why they should care about energy,” he said. “We are talking about the home insulation projects they completed this year. They are seeing one of the benefits — that it saves their parents money. But I’m also asking them why conserving that energy matters to the world.”


Broadcasting major Amy Kauffman ’14 (Carlisle, Pa.) was one of many volunteer tour guides for the special day.


“I’m an RA and one of the other RAs helping to set this up asked if I would be willing to volunteer,” Kauffman said. “It sounded like fun and the kids have been great.”


In addition to meeting with Marietta College’s scientists, the children were treated to lunch in Gilman Dining Hall, were given time to play on the softball field and were also given a special tour of campus.


“It’s been a good day,” Brown said.