Rockhurst Students Help Teach Importance of Math, ScienceFebruary 11, 2014

From physical therapy to rocket science, students at Brookwood Elementary School got a taste of a number of different disciplines courtesy of a group of Rockhurst University students during the most recent Math and Science Night at the Leawood, Kan., school.

About 30 students shared their expertise in the STEM — science, technology, engineering and science — fields, including some interactive demonstrations of physical therapy methods, vinegar and baking soda “rocket science,” and DNA extraction from a banana.

Marcie Swift, PT, Ph.D., assistant professor of physical therapy at Rockhurst, said it’s the second year the University has participated in the Math and Science Night, an effort that has departments and students from across the University working together to present fun and educational activities.

“I think it’s been a good experience for us in that our departments are working together,” Swift said. “And it’s always great to see our undergraduates side-by-side with graduate students.”

Organized by the Brookwood PTA, the Math and Science Night aims to give students and parents alike a chance to interact with STEM-related concepts firsthand, according to Brookwood Principal Teddi Pendland.

“It serves to make connections with students on how math and science is integrated into our everyday world,” she said. “It also shows them how the things they are learning in school have many applications outside of school.”

The program is a learning experience for the volunteers who led the activities, as well. Kristen Schildz, a Rockhurst senior majoring in elementary education and history, said she feels she gained valuable perspective on working with younger students in the classroom.

“One of our main goals is to get them engaged,” she said. “We want them to think and be creative and try new things and we want them to learn that they are scientists. It’s not just about lab coats.”

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