MOUNT VERNON — Budding female scientists from middle schools across the area participated in the 2009 Knox County Girls in Science Day held Tuesday at Mount Vernon High School. Approximately 60 girls took part in hands-on activities as they rotated through workshops dealing with physics, chemistry, biology and geology.
Carmen Dixon, a teacher at Fredericktown High School, conducted a workshop called “Good Vibrations.” Attendees learned about the physics of sound and sound waves as they experimented with tuning forks and other noisemakers.
East Knox middle-schooler Brooke Murphy helped Dixon demonstrate how sound waves travel. They confirmed the existence of compression waves by activating a longitudinal wave simulator — commonly know as a slinky.
The connection between one’s senses and chemistry was highlighted during a workshop guided by Knox County Career Center teacher Mary Beth Dove. Using shaving cream and food coloring, the students learned about such concepts as diffusion and the interaction between various states of matter. St. Vincent student Shannon Pae said she liked the chemistry workshop.
“The gases, solids and liquids are cool,” she said.
College of Wooster students Ali Drushell and Stephanie Jarvis taught middle school girls how to identify minerals, and led them in discovering that different types of rock have different weights and different mineral compositions. They talked about stratovolcanoes, shield volcanoes and the types of material formed by volcanoes, such as pumice.
Human vision and the eye were featured in the biology workshop conducted by East Knox High School teacher Amy Rine. She handed out copies of the vision chart typically used by optometrists, and discussed how the eye works. Then, to the delight of some of the girls and the chagrin of others, Rine supervised as pairs of middle-schoolers dissected cow eyeballs to see the inner workings. Danville’s Kaylin Rex said she liked learning about the eye, while Avi Wagoner, St. Vincent, said, “I am now a vegetarian.”
Challenge activities, according to Mount Vernon High School science teacher Bonnie Schutte, who helped coordinate science day, included exploring topics such as a spaceship, comets, astronauts and planets. During the lunch break, the middle school scientists were treated to a “chemistry is cool” magic show by Kenyon College instructor Kristen Hofferberth.
The keynote speaker was Dr. Dianne Popik, a research audiologist at the Battlespace Acoustics Branch, Wright Patterson Air Force Base. Her primary work is applied research in complex auditory environments and studying ways humans can better communicate in high tempo and high noise environments.
Knox County Girls in Science Day was funded by grant money and donations by employees of Rolls-Royce Energy Systems.