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Hands-On Experience Turns Chemistry Course Into Career Path

The Society of Plastics Engineers’ Eve Vitale shows an example of a thermoformed product.
The Society of Plastics Engineers’ Eve Vitale shows an example of a thermoformed product.
Nicholas C. Moore, of Lock Haven, guides a group of students through the plastics and polymer technology department’s materials testing lab. Moore, who completed Penn College NOW courses in the Keystone Central School District, holds junior-level standing in his fourth semester in the plastics and polymer engineering technology major.
Nicholas C. Moore, of Lock Haven, guides a group of students through the plastics and polymer technology department’s materials testing lab. Moore, who completed Penn College NOW courses in the Keystone Central School District, holds junior-level standing in his fourth semester in the plastics and polymer engineering technology major.
Students measure borax and a polymer used in white glue to form a thermoset compound.
Students measure borax and a polymer used in white glue to form a thermoset compound.
Stirring a concoction, students observe an endothermic reaction as new chemical bonds form.
Stirring a concoction, students observe an endothermic reaction as new chemical bonds form.
The result is a “slime” that, Vitale tells the students, was used in the filming of “Ghostbusters.”
The result is a “slime” that, Vitale tells the students, was used in the filming of “Ghostbusters.”

Seventy Keystone Central School District chemistry students converged on Penn College on Tuesday to learn how their chemistry lessons apply to the field of plastics. During a four-hour stay on campus, they took part in a variety of plastics experiments courtesy of the Society of Plastics Engineers’ PlastiVan program. Under the instruction of SPE Foundation Director Eve Vitale, the students learned about the chemistry of plastics and future career options while they made several polymers of their own. The PlastiVan’s visit was sponsored by Sekisui SPI, of Bloomsburg. The program travels to schools and companies throughout North America, educating people of all ages about the chemistry, history, processing, manufacturing, sustainability and application of plastics, all through hands-on experiences that spark scientific curiosity. In addition, the Keystone Central students took student-led tours of the college’s plastics and polymer laboratories and of the campus. More than half of the students in attendance are enrolled in Penn College’s Fundamentals of Chemistry course, taught during the school day by Keystone Central instructors through the Penn College NOW dual-enrollment program.

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