In addition to our regular operations (teaching, research, and service to the university), many faculty engage in outreach to the community, often alongside our students. Outreach to the community is a wonderful way of helping others while also sharing the knowledge and resources that DePaul, our students, and our department have to offer. Examples of outreach include going to local schools or community events to talk about chemistry and science. We’d like to highlight two recent examples that were are very proud of because they involve the hard work of our students and alumni as well as contributions from our faculty:
This summer, Dr. Southern went to CAMP: a FASD Community, where FASD stands for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. (You can also find them on Facebook.) She worked with their staff members, including two chemistry alumni Alan Mlotkowski and Nick Tassone, to do science projects with the campers. Nick is the Executive Director and co-founder of the organization. If you want to learn more about the organization, reach out to him.
In terms of the science projects, they talked with the 23 campers (ages from 9 – 18, both boys and girls) about acid/base properties (using litmus and indicators to determine if something is an acid or a base), then did reactions of an acid and a base with other solutions, making precipitates and bubbles. The campers also froze items with liquid nitrogen and saw dry ice bubbles, elephant toothpaste, and supersaturated sodium acetate solidifying. Dr. Southern has done this in the past and she said that many of the campers that attended last year were back again, and it was great to see how they have grown in a year.
Another example of outreach this summer was faculty and student involvement in inSTEM (Inspiring STEM in Middle-school Girls), a program founded by Dr. Cobb from the College of Education. More information can be found at their website: http://www.instematdpu.com/about.html.
The program has been expanded to three weeks during the summer and two Saturdays in September, October, and November. Dr. Shelby is the co-director of the program and has been involved for the last two years. One of our majors, Megan Wilson, was also involved. She was a Coding II instructor for 9th and 10th-grade girls. The three weeks included learning the Python coding language, which resulted in a final project of creating a game such as Clue, Tic-Tac-Toe, Rock-Paper-Scissors, or Yahtzee. She also worked with two high school-aged mentors to teach the lessons. Megan has been involved in the program since fall of 2017 and plans to continue to help teach coding for inSTEM.