By Lucas Johnson
TSU Media Relations
More than 100 middle and high school students recently participated in research and demonstrations at Tennessee State University’s 13th annual Chemistry Day.
The event on April 7 provided a platform for students to showcase their talent and knowledge in the field of chemistry as it seeks to expose students to one of many STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) disciplines. TSU students, faculty and staff also participated in the event, which was held in the Alger V. Boswell Science Complex.
It included a career fair featuring representatives from the American Chemical Society, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Crime Lab, the Metropolitan Nashville Police Department, and the Environmental Science Corporation, to name a few. In addition, a host of exhibitors were on-hand, along with the organization of a departmental tour for Hillsboro High School and J.T. Moore Middle School students in Nashville, who also participated in chemistry lab demonstrations and a Chemistry Challenge Quiz Bowl.
“This is the day we have an opportunity to expose ourselves to the community,” said Dr. Mohammed Karim, chair, TSU Department of Chemistry. “It allows people to see what we do in the department and to learn more about the research that takes place. In addition to the exposure it provides our current students, this is also an important recruitment tool in attracting high school students. This entire event is done without any expense to TSU.”
More than 50 TSU students served as volunteers, with the Chemistry Graduate Student Association and Chemistry Club heavily involved in helping to present the program.
“It was interesting to see chemistry done at a college level and to see a more physical side to chemistry,” said Colin Jones, an eighth-grade student from J.T. Moore Middle School. “We talk about it in school, but it was really cool to see it in action. The best part was the lab demonstrations. I learned that chemistry is in all things.”
As part of the day’s activities, the department also engages alumni in the event. This year, the department welcomed back Dr. Jeanita S. Pritchett, an analytical chemist in the Chemical Sciences Division at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and a 2005 graduate of TSU, who was the featured speaker. Her topic, “Breaking Down Barriers in the STEM Field,” focused on inspiring the next generation of scientists, particularly women and minority groups, to pursue one of the many possible careers in science.
“The College of Life & Physical Sciences takes great pride in this opportunity to promote science education for students and teachers, while encouraging minority participation in the STEM areas,” said Dr. Lonnie Sharpe, interim dean. “I encourage potential students to inquire about our academic programs for enrollment and to return to our institution to learn more about our historical significance and to experience the environment which fosters student success.”