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Science Festival ignites youngsters’ STEM-related curiosity


More than 1,500 fifth-graders from local and regional school districts took part in Wednesday’s ninth annual Science Festival at Penn College, encouraged by presenters, sponsors and vendors to dive hands-first into a sea of possibility. Inquisitive girls and boys witnessed a variety of campus demonstrations in Klump Academic Center, Bardo Gymnasium and the Field House during the day, exploring the fertile fields of science, technology, engineering and math. In addition to enlightening the youngsters in attendance, the event – a precursor to an evening session for families – generated front-page coverage in Thursday’s Williamsport Sun-Gazette.

– Photos by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer/photo editor,
and Jennifer A. Cline, writer/magazine editor

During a “Taste of Technology” presentation by Chef Frank M. Suchwala, associate professor of hospitality management/culinary arts, children drop orange soda into a solution that includes alginate (a product of seaweed) to create tasty, caviar-sized spheres.
During a “Taste of Technology” presentation by Chef Frank M. Suchwala, associate professor of hospitality management/culinary arts, children drop orange soda into a solution that includes alginate (a product of seaweed) to create tasty, caviar-sized spheres.

A timely demonstration in bacteria and the importance of good hand-washing is supplied by West Pharmaceutical Services.
A timely demonstration in bacteria and the importance of good hand-washing is supplied by West Pharmaceutical Services.

Wide eyes and wonder
Wide eyes and wonder

A Franklin Institute demonstrator starts off a lively lesson with a demonstration of static electricity.
A Franklin Institute demonstrator starts off a lively lesson with a demonstration of static electricity.

Glue, food coloring, corn starch and borax are the ingredients used in the creation of “bouncy balls” at a project sponsored by St. John Neumann Regional Academy.
Glue, food coloring, corn starch and borax are the ingredients used in the creation of “bouncy balls” at a project sponsored by St. John Neumann Regional Academy.

Suchwala, backed by baking and pastry arts student Jace A. Crowl, of Landenberg, engages the crowd.
Suchwala, backed by baking and pastry arts student Jace A. Crowl, of Landenberg, engages the crowd.

A youngster eyes a possible future in medical imaging at a display hosted by Penn College’s radiography major.
A youngster eyes a possible future in medical imaging at a display hosted by Penn College’s radiography major.

Pig lungs stir awe and engagement at a display hosted by Williamsport Area High School’s Health Professions career and technical education course.
Pig lungs stir awe and engagement at a display hosted by Williamsport Area High School’s Health Professions career and technical education course.

Delighting young guests, the Lycoming County Conservation District's uncharacteristically friendly (and purposefully informative) tick points the way to adventures in science.
Delighting young guests, the Lycoming County Conservation District’s uncharacteristically friendly (and purposefully informative) tick points the way to adventures in science.

The power of water is explored at the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy table.
The power of water is explored at the Northcentral Pennsylvania Conservancy table.

Fifth graders from several school districts pack the ACC Auditorium to learn about Sweet and Savory Science, presented by Suchwala and three student assistants: Christopher M. Bashaw, of Jersey Shore; Rachel J. Gobin, of Carlisle; and Crowl.
Fifth graders from several school districts pack the ACC Auditorium to learn about Sweet and Savory Science, presented by Suchwala and three student assistants: Christopher M. Bashaw, of Jersey Shore; Rachel J. Gobin, of Carlisle; and Crowl.

Audience members join the show to futilely try to separate two pieces of steel that moments before would not stick together. The difference? A battery was turned on to create electromagnetism.
Audience members join the show to futilely try to separate two pieces of steel that moments before would not stick together. The difference? A battery was turned on to create electromagnetism.

Representatives from Larson Design Group (on right) share a laugh with a student. On far right is alumnus Josiah T. Covert, ’18, civil engineering technology, who enjoys a career in bridge design and inspection.
Representatives from Larson Design Group (on right) share a laugh with a student. On far right is alumnus Josiah T. Covert, ’18, civil engineering technology, who enjoys a career in bridge design and inspection.

Kemtec and AquaPhoenix Scientific engage young minds in the conductivity of solutions.
Kemtec and AquaPhoenix Scientific engage young minds in the conductivity of solutions.

Before revealing its effects on Teddy Grahams, Suchwala shows the crowd how liquid nitrogen boils and produces vapor at room temperature.
Before revealing its effects on Teddy Grahams, Suchwala shows the crowd how liquid nitrogen boils and produces vapor at room temperature.

Feeling the heat! Guests discover the power of solar panels.
Feeling the heat! Guests discover the power of solar panels.

Crowds of fifth-graders cross Third Street as they wrap up a demonstration on electricity by Franklin Institute in the Bardo Gym and head for an equally engaging demonstration on molecular gastronomy by the college’s School of Business & Hospitality.
Crowds of fifth-graders cross Third Street as they wrap up a demonstration on electricity by Franklin Institute in the Bardo Gym and head for an equally engaging demonstration on molecular gastronomy by the college’s School of Business & Hospitality.

A fifth-grader pulls a core sample from the exploration table staffed by Penn College’s construction management students.
A fifth-grader pulls a core sample from the exploration table staffed by Penn College’s construction management students.

That slime is mine! Kids knead small plastic bags filled with slime solution at an exhibit sponsored by the Society of Plastics Engineers’ PlastiVan program.
That slime is mine! Kids knead small plastic bags filled with slime solution at an exhibit sponsored by the Society of Plastics Engineers’ PlastiVan program.

Students enthusiastically compete at a 24-volt traffic signal exhibit designed and built by Penn College electrical majors.
Students enthusiastically compete at a 24-volt traffic signal exhibit designed and built by Penn College electrical majors.

Brennan B. Wodrig, program manager for the college’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center, fields questions for the industry's potential future.
Brennan B. Wodrig, program manager for the college’s Plastics Innovation & Resource Center, fields questions for the industry’s potential future.

A popular corner of the Field House: SEKISUI SPI thermoforms sheets of plastic into take-home treasures.
A popular corner of the Field House: SEKISUI SPI thermoforms sheets of plastic into take-home treasures.

The Franklin Institute educator tries to catch a glimpse of her hair as the buildup of electrical charges in a Van de Graaff generator makes it stand on end.
The Franklin Institute educator tries to catch a glimpse of her hair as the buildup of electrical charges in a Van de Graaff generator makes it stand on end.

Peace out! Fifth-graders' thermal gestures are displayed on PPL Electrical Utilities’ magical monitor, which broadcasts the output from a drone’s infrared camera.
Peace out! Fifth-graders’ thermal gestures are displayed on PPL Electrical Utilities’ magical monitor, which broadcasts the output from a drone’s infrared camera.

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