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Visitors Can Try out Science Equipment at Juniata Open House Honoring Area Legislators

(Posted January 3, 2005)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Two longtime Pennsylvania politicians, state Sen. Robert Jubelirer, and state Rep. Larry Sather, will be honored by Juniata College's Science in Motion program for their support in funding the college's celebrated outreach efforts at 7:15 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 6 in Room C225 in the Brumbaugh Academic Center as part of the Science in Motion Open House from 3:30 to 9 p.m.

The public is encouraged to visit the first floor of the C-Wing of Brumbaugh Academic Center (formerly the Brumbaugh Science Center) to see and try out some of the scientific instruments and equipment available for use by area teachers at middle schools and junior and senior high schools participating in the program.

"We'd like people in the community to come and 'test-drive' some of our new equipment and see some demonstrations of the science lessons we present to area schools," says Lorraine Mulfinger, associate professor of chemistry and director of Science in Motion.

At the 7:15 ceremony, Juniata trustee Dr. Thomas Pheasant will present Jubelirer and Sather with resolutions from Juniata's board of trustees, followed by several chemistry demonstrations in C225 Brumbaugh Academic Center. If the room is overcrowded, the presentation and demonstrations will be moved to Alumni Hall in Brumbaugh.

Throughout the open house, visitors can see and operate much of the equipment and instruments used in the college's high school and middle school education programs. Visitors can see Juniata's mobile wireless weather station, a telescope, an atomic force microscope, platforms for measuring foot pressure and force, and a gas chromatograph.

Visitors also can see some of the equipment used in the college's new middle school initiative, which began in September. Juniata received a one-year grant for more than $415,000 from the state Department of Education's Department of Assessment and Evaluation to create a pilot program for middle school science instruction. The grant allows Juniata to bring a new brand of high-tech science instruction and equipment into middle schools in 11 local school districts.

"Middle school is the age where students begin to lose interest in science and that is particularly a problem in smaller, more rural school districts that might not have the budget to afford a large science program," says Mulfinger. "Smaller rural school districts have difficulty in supporting science programs because of the cost of equipment and technology."

The pilot program will be used as a model for the state to apply for a National Science Foundation grant to fund the program next year.

"Students will do better on assessment tests and become more interested in science if they have hands-on experience," Mulfinger says. "Pennsylvania students will start being tested in science in 2007 as part of the federal requirements of the No Child Left Behind legislation. Science in Motion's middle school project will help these students get top scores."

Juniata has purchased a new van for the middle school project and hired two new mobile educators.

While Science in Motion's high school curriculum centers on chemistry and biology, the middle school program will address lessons in physical sciences, life sciences, earth and space science and environmental science and ecology.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.