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Oklahoma State University

Students enjoy hands-on learning at OSU National Lab Day

High school students from around the state participated in a day of hand-on learning Tuesday during the eighth annual National Lab Day at Oklahoma State University.

At least 100 students and 15 teachers learned about discovery-based science experiments, and entomology, among other things.

Garrett Thomas, 16, a sophomore at Stillwater High, was excited to learn more about bugs.  “I’ve been bitten by enough of them to want to know more,” Thomas said.  He was at the university for a day of learning with other Stillwater High AP biology sophomores.

Alyssa Decker, 16, was mesmorized while looking at an Oklahoma Brown Tarantula.  “It was really awesome,” Decker said. “It looked like a tank because it is so well protected with its exoskeleton.”

Presenter Andrine Shufran, who works in the department of Entomology and also runs the Insect Adventure program through OSU Cooperative Extension Services, share her passion with the students, spitting out fact after fact.  “There are about 30 million different species of bugs,” Shufran said. “Mosquitoes kill more people than any other bug because they can transmit disease. Mosquitoes and ticks kill two million humans every year.”  The students ate it up, asking question after question while handling bugs, including an African millipede.  “I think this is a great opportunity for kids to get out of the classroom and learn what jobs are out there,” Shufran said. “For us, it is a great opportunity to show there are a lot of options for their future.”

Cushing High biology teacher Josh Encinas said it was great to get the kids to OSU where they could see authentic research being done.  “The students are learning how to apply science to everyday life,” Encinas said.

Sophomore Vanessa Mendez, 15, said learning about surface tension from petroleum engineering professor Prem Bikkina was pretty cool.  Bikkina explained to the students that water striders can walk on water because of surface tension.  “Surface tension and wettability are fundamental surface science properties and they play very important role in numerous daily life and industrial applications such as capillary wicking, cleaning, bubble blowing, glass manufacturing, computer chip making, petroleum production, sprays and coatings, and various other macro and micro manufacturing processes,” Bikkina said in a handout to students. 

Julie Angle, a science education professor who teaches teachers how to teach science, spearheads the event, which is co-sponsored by the College of Education; College of Human Sciences; College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology; College of Arts and Sciences; and the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources.  “We couldn’t do it without their support,” Angle said.

About 27 researchers and more than 30 volunteers participated at sites around campus.  It is a great event because it benefits OSU as a recruiting mechanism and because some of the faculty use it for their outreach,” Angle said “It also allows teachers to keep abreast of information they can talk about in the classroom. It is a win-win.”

as reported by Stillwater Newspress