Potomac State Faculty, Students to Offer Hands-on Participation at STEM Festival

KEYSER, WV- Imagine getting to launch a life-size catapult. Or, learn what actually causes Lyme disease. Or, what if you could actually touch preserved specimens to learn how the brain works?

These possibilities become a reality during Mineral County’s second Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Festival, to be held Saturday, March 22, from noon to 4 p.m., on the campus of Potomac State College of West Virginia University, in Keyser, W.Va.

STEMPotomac State faculty and students will make the following thought-provoking presentations and offer hands-on demonstrations during the event:

The College’s Engineering Club will launch plastic pellets and aluminum foil balls through the air with air-soft and gas-powered launchers, respectively, as well as tennis balls with a life-size catapult. According to Engineering Club President Matthew Folmer, a sophomore from Ridgeley, W.Va., the group also plans to build bridges with Popsicle sticks and spaghetti pasta and create giant bubbles that won’t pop. The club is under the advisement of Engineering and Computer Science Professor Mohammed Saifi.

According to Sophomore Kevin Acquah, president of the Computer Science Club, his group will work with a programmable robot that will react to commands such as following an individual or waving. The group will also work with the Raspberry Pi, a credit-card-sized single-board computer developed in the United K ingdom by the Raspberry Pi Foundation with the intention of promoting the teaching of basic computer science in schools. Assistant Professor of Engineering and Mathematics Deepak Mehra is the club adviser. 

Assistant Biology Professor Vicki Huffman will conduct a Microbe Fair where her microbiology students will prepare 3-D models and/or displays of a microbe (bacteria or virus) that causes a disease. Some examples are acne, tetanus, cavities, influenza, strep throat, and Lyme disease. The models/presentations and Frequently Asked Questions sheets will be available about each microbe and the disease(s) it causes for students to review.  Professor Huffman and her students will be available for discussion and to answer any questions. 

Assistant Biology Professor Sheryl Chisholm and students from her Anatomy and Physiology 2 class will present Hands-On Anatomy.  During this interactive display, guests will view posters, engage in activities, see models and samples, and be able to touch preserved specimens targeted at six topics.  The topics include the cardiovascular system, the brain, the urinary system, the respiratory system, mammal skull comparison, and fetal pig anatomy.  Hands-On Anatomy is geared for all age groups to learn more about how their bodies work and to gain a better understanding of some common illnesses such as stroke, heart attack, asthma, smoking, diabetes, and obesity.

The mission of the STEM Festival is to re-invigorate the interest of our youth in STEM activities and careers by producing and presenting compelling, exciting, educational, and entertaining science gatherings.

The Mineral County STEM Network’s purpose is to increase communication among individuals, business/industry and organizations interested in encouraging our youth to consider the different STEM fields for careers.

For more information on the Mineral County STEM Network visit http://mineralstem.com/ and for regular updates on the STEM Festival “Like” our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MineralCountySTEM .