Local students learn about science, STEM careers
He carefully removed the lid. Instantly, a thick, white fog drifted out of the cooler, and down toward the lower levels of the atrium.
“I think everything’s cooked,” Bob Riggs, physics and astronomy lecturer at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, joked as he peered into the cooler.
With that, a lucky middle school student snapped open a pair of tongs. Of all the students at KCP&L’s Get Into Energy camp, she’d been the most eager to assist with one of the day’s more dramatic experiments – discovering what happens to objects when they’re dropped into liquid nitrogen.
Or, even better, discovering what happens a few minutes later, when that object is dropped from the second story of a building.
Riggs stood on the second floor atrium of UMKC’s School of Computing and Engineering, where the three-day camp was taking place. On the floor below, the rest of the 24 rising eighth and ninth grade campers shouted with excitement, and in the ultimate sign of middle school approval, pulled out their smart phones to record the experiment.
One by one, the objects – an orange, a racquetball, a bouncy ball – shattered onto the floor. The campers shrieked, jumped, and recorded every minute of it.
They were all there for their love of science, and the Get Into Energy camp is designed to deepen that enthusiasm. With any luck, that enthusiasm won’t fade with time. After all, the camp is designed by KCP&L, the KC STEM Alliance and the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering to get local students interested in STEM careers.
Over the course of three days, the faculty and engineering students from the UMKC’s SCE engaged the participants as they rotated through hands-on experiments. In between the experiments, KCP&L employees conducted field trips and talked about their STEM careers.
“Utility industry jobs, like the ones KCP&L has to offer, are not on the radar screens of most middle school students,” said Sarah Whitman, manager, Technical Training at KCP&L. “This summer camp is a fun, interactive place where these students can learn about the basics of electrical energy, as well as get a first-hand look at how that energy is delivered to their homes, schools and communities safely.”
Photo Credit: Janet Rogers, Division of Strategic Marketing and Communications.