Ryan Van Horn, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and students in his Experimental Design II course joined Curtis Buie’s fifth-grade class at Paxinosa Elementary as part of Landis Center for Community Engagement’s Connected Classrooms initiative.

Concepts covered:

  • What is chemical engineering?
  • How do we move materials?
  • How do materials help from a medicinal or biological standpoint?
  • What makes up slime, and what are polymers?
  • How do 3D printers work?

Feedback from Prof. Van Horn:

“The Connected Classrooms program is great for local elementary schools and for our students. I think it’s important that our students do outreach work in the local community to recognize the importance of their role as future engineers, leaders, and community members. It’s easy to sequester ourselves to the campus bubble, but our work is much more important than that. 

“The partnership allows Lafayette students to rekindle the fun and joy of being scientists and engineers, which can be lost in rigorous coursework. On the other hand, they are visible role models for the elementary school students. I intentionally kept myself out of most of the activity to allow the Lafayette students to closely interact with the Paxinosa students and vice versa.  Hopefully, the fifth graders see that they themselves could be aspiring engineers teaching other students about their interests. Particularly, I hope that the strong female representation in my group of students encourages the young girls to follow their interests in STEM. 

“The Lafayette students did a fantastic job of making the ideas of biomaterial properties and processing accessible to the fifth graders and should really be commended for their work. I hope that we can get back to bringing the elementary students to campus as a way to inspire them to pursue their dreams and to show that STEM, and college in general, is fun.”

Learn about other Connected Classrooms.

Categorized in: Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Community, Connected Communities, Faculty and Staff, Innovative Teaching and Learning, Landis Center, Students