Ryan Van Horn, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, and his students welcomed a fifth grade class from Cheston Elementary as part of the Landis Center for Community Engagement’s Connected Classrooms initiative.

Concepts covered: Biomaterial interactions

Activity: Making homemade kinetic sand to talk about polymers, and using engineering design principles to build model prosthetic legs

“The elementary students had a great time, and all were enthusiastic about their interest in science.  To me, that is what these events are all about: showing the students that learning and doing science and engineering is fun, and developing an interest that hopefully stays with them through middle and high school,” shares Van Horn. “It’s also fun to watch the Lafayette students interact with and teach the young students about what they have learned in my class.  This year’s group came up with some great activities.”

“This was my first time doing anything like this in college, and I had so much fun. My group partners and I had the responsibility of delivering an introductory presentation to the Cheston Elementary students, and we had so much fun with it. We planned a PowerPoint presentation for the first 15 minutes of our presentation, and then played a game for the last 15 minutes. This game was meant to show the students how molecules will only bind with specific molecules, and how materials interact favorably or unfavorably in the body based on their willingness to react. We played a number pairing game where we assigned a number to each student and had them hold a piece of paper with that number. We called out combinations like 1 and 2, 3 and 4, and other combinations of numbers. Each student had to bind to someone with their number pair. They loved this game, which made us so happy,” shares Renee Pascoe ’25. “I loved teaching the fifth graders. They were funny, enthusiastic, and quick to answer our questions and ask their own. They engaged with the presentation, and I think that they had a positive experience with us. The Connected Classrooms program is great because it benefits both the College and elementary students. College students get to educate children in the surrounding community about the interesting things they are learning, while those kids get to take a trip to a college for a day and learn about something that they might be interested in studying in the future. For both groups, it is a fun and educational time.”

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