MathSP delivered thrilling, eye-opening and interactive STEM demonstrations to 100+ students at four (4) different schools in the greater Atlanta area, effectively participating in the state-wide effort to make May 9th, Georgia’s 2nd annual STEM Day the best STEM day yet. What can we say? The day was a blowout success. Students inspected the world of neuroscience through optical illusions and hands-on examinations of pigeon and rat brains; they simulated the disease transmission process during their tour through epidemiology; and they also discovered just how ubiquitous, fun and significant engineering is by getting their hands wet and making usable paper from pulp. Below, we share how our exceptional master coaches helped make this STEM Day unprecedented!
MathSP coach and Emory University graduate student in neuroscience Constance Harrell guided Riverwood High School students through a build-a-brain project that challenged them to critically engage how the brain works. Constance provided actual brains from rats, pigeons, sheep, and horses as well as a real-life human brain! Students were given opportunities to touch and examine these brains and discuss the neurological similarities and differences across these various animals. Toward the end of the class, students put their critical thinking skills to work and deployed what they learned to design and model the brain of an imaginary animal. To complete the project, students had to think across several spheres to generate specific cognitive processes and then logically correlate these processes to the lifestyles of their creations. Some students walked to the front of the class and explained their brain and how its many functions shaped the identity of their invented creature to the class. MathSP coach and Emory University graduate student in immunology and molecular pathogenesis George Kannarkat delivered a presentation titled “Germs, Germs, Germs!” in which students learned just how rapidly an infection can spread and how to reduce the chances of illness. Through interactive activities that correlate disease-promoting behaviors with “mixing cups” (students walked around carrying cups of water and a baking soda solution to simulate the experience of carrying disease), the class explored disease transmission and the efficacy of vaccines in containing epidemics. George deftly connected the concepts that his students are learning with Lakeside High School Mathematics Teacher Troyce Brown to the everyday research of immunologists tasked with stymying the development of pernicious viruses.
MathSP coach and Emory University undergraduate student in neuroscience Jaye George took the brain to new dimensions when he projected PBS’s interactive brain animation onto the class Promethean board to get students at The Champion School thinking about how the disparate parts of the brain work together to filter the innumerable sense perceptions we experience every day. By reflecting on the many forms of cognition and activity that their brains allow them to engage in each day, students deduced the functions of the four lobes and took turns explaining their reasoning to the class. Once they had gleaned a working knowledge of the brain’s major centers, Jaye showed his students optical illusions to demonstrate how their brains orient and process images as well as shed light (pun intended) on the occipital lobe. The class was blown away! Before the day closed, Jaye managed to squeeze in the infamous Stroop Test, an examination of behavioral inhibition in which students read the names of colors that are written in a color that differs from the meaning of the name (red, blue, yellow, orange, etc). Jaye says, “Because the students were exceptional, they performed well on the Stroop Test.” Finally, students did some case study work when Jaye presented them with the curious case of Phineas Gage. MathSP coach, Carnegie Mellon University graduate in chemical engineering, and full-time consultant Kristina Kostopoulos demonstrated that STEM is in everything – down to the materials we take for granted most – by making real-life, usable paper with students at Druid Hills High School. To ensure that her students got to see the end product, she brought pulp from home and then explained the two major approaches to making pulp – mechanical and chemical – while the students enjoyed some hands-on time with the raw material. The class then participated in the papermaking process by using a window screen to filter the water content out of the pulp. By the end of the class, the process was complete and students left with a new sense of just how integral engineering is to our world.
“Thanks so much for sending George Kannarkat to us! My students thoroughly enjoyed his presentation on immunology. He did an excellent job of relating his presentation to the math on which we are currently working. I will be happy to host any speakers that you may have in the future.” – Troyce Brown, Mathematics Teacher, Lakeside High School “Jaye George did an outstanding job with his STEM Day presentation. He was able to relate to the students and his activities were engaging. He was only able to speak to one class because of our schedule and my other students were very disappointed that they did not get a chance to meet Jaye. We are looking forward to future collaborations with MathSP.” – Mrs. M. Jones, Science Teacher, The Champion School, A Traditional Theme Middle School To partner with MathSP for a STEM Day in your school, email us at info@MathSP.com.