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Students team up for STEAM event


April 26, 2019

Bryan Hellios/Daily Globe

GCC FORESTRY Technology students Lexie Voight, left, Casey Kemppainen, Savannah Westie and Eric Olsen show a group of middle school students how growth rings tell a story about a tree's lifecycle during a STEAM activity nature hike.


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Ironwood - Middle school students excitedly participated in hands-on experiments with college students during Gogebic Community College's Science, Technology, Engineering, Art/Design and Mathematics event Thursday morning.

Serena Mershon, chemistry professor at GCC, said the bi-annual STEAM project started out with college students visiting local schools. With help from Larry Gabka, a former biology instructor, the traveling project was transformed into an event at GCC.

"It turned into this, she said. "Originally Science Fun Day and now it's the STEAM day."

Mershom said the event allows college student the opportunity to switch roles and become teachers to younger learners. Students have to understand a concept at the college level and be able to "break it down" to be understood by a middle school student, she added.

"It really makes them have to understand it and not just repeat what they found online," Mershon said.

From nature hikes to making ice cream, middle school students were able to hop from activity to activity during the event.

GCC students Eddie Lovelace and Sophie Halverson chose to show the crystallization process of bismuth, which is a post-transition metal. Once the element is melted, Lovelace said crystals begin forming during the cooling process. The team said they want the students to understand melting points and the oxidation process.

"Just because it's a rock doesn't mean it's boring," Halverson said.

When the announcement came it was time to feed GCC student Jamie Brown's pet snake Diamond, nearly all other activities were abandoned and eyes were on the mouse. Kids grabbed their cellphones to get a picture and many jumped as Diamond ate his meal.

Mershom said one of the aspects she likes about the event is the smiles and excitement in the faces of both college and middle school students.

"I always love to do projects where they're interacting with people younger than them," she said. "It's a huge motivation for them."


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