CSUB Chemistry Department receives grant for youth education

chemical circusYoung people of Kern County, get ready for Chemical Circus, a traveling interactive program brought to you by the Chemistry Department at California State University, Bakersfield. In its first year of existence, and already a hit at the Boys & Girls Club and with local school science clubs, the program will now reach out to more youth thanks to a $10,000 grant announced Wednesday.

CSUB's program is one of nine winners nationwide receiving funding from "Partnering for Excellence: Innovations in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education," a national competition hosted by Ashoka Changemakers, Carnegie Corporation of New York and The Opportunity Equation. For the U.S. to remain competitive in STEM fields, youth must be attracted early and retained until they complete college. The grant winners have come up with creative ways to bring STEM professionals into K-12 schools to use their talent, knowledge and real-world skills to engage students, particularly in high-need communities.

CSUB's Chemistry Department received the Innovations in Life Sciences Prize, sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The prize will allow the department to purchase materials, develop demonstrations, and pay senior undergraduate students to train and work as program leaders.

The Chemical Circus is a series of engaging, entertaining, and educational chemistry activities developed by the CSUB Chemistry Department to promote interest in chemistry among local youth. A Chemical Circus session consists of demonstrations performed by trained faculty and students, followed by a safe, hands-on activity. So far, demonstrations have been held at the Boys and Girls Club and at some science club meetings at local schools. With the grant, the program will expand into high school classrooms and elsewhere in the community.

Not only does the program inspire participating youth, but the experience also offers an opportunity for service learning for CSUB students which, in turn, increases retention and learning within the chemistry major.

"Students get the chance to teach and mentor K-12 youth about chemistry, reinforcing concepts they have learned in class and strengthening leadership skills and the importance of community-based work," said Dr. Danielle Solano, assistant professor of chemistry at CSUB.

For more information about Chemical Circus, contact Dr. Danielle Solano at 661-654-2785 or dsolano@csub.edu. For more information about the Partnering for Excellence grant, visitwww.changemakers.com/stemeducation.

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