Professor Marion Hammond made a seemingly simple proposition to students: Name something that does not involve chemistry.
But, as Hammond later explained, that is impossible.
Hammond put on a “chemistry magic show” for about 60 students and teachers at the 10th annual Science and Technology Expo April 19 at the College of Southern Nevada, 3200 E. Cheyenne Ave.
The show consisted of a variety of chemical reactions that garnered several “ooohs” and “ahhhs” from students.
“I just do it because it’s fun, and I have a good time doing it,” said Hammond, who teaches at CSN’s Charleston campus, 6375 W. Charleston Blvd. “I want people to like science again. Chemistry does touch everything you can touch.”
The expo featured dozens of stations from in-house professors and community partners in a variety of scientific disciplines, including health, automotive, engineering, physical science, chemistry and more.
“Ninety-nine percent of this country is science-illiterate,” Hammond said. “We try to get kids to get excited to go into science even though it is very difficult. Science is really cool if you can understand it and have fun.
“It’s really sad because a lot of grade school teachers are afraid of science and don’t teach it. Every kid is born with a science mind. They’re curious about everything.”
More than 2,000 students from 26 middle and high schools were bused to the event, according to Davis Ayers, Clark County School District’s project facilitator for the Career and Technical Academy Department. Transportation was provided by the department through various grants, and the event was also open to the public.
“It’s part of career planning,” Ayers said. “We want to get them to understand there are things that happen after high school and what different careers they could go into. ... The whole point is to get them thinking about the future. Maybe they find out there’s something they don’t want to do –– that’s just as useful.”
Sophomore Reina Corrales, 16, of Burk Horizon High School, 4560 W. Harmon Ave., got to attend because of her good attendance record and said she was happy she could go.
“I don’t really get to do stuff like that often,” she said. “It was a good experience for me because it introduced me to the different types of areas I can look into.”
Corrales plans to go to college to study psychiatry. She said the visit was also beneficial because she was able to explore a college campus for the first time for about three hours.
Hammond’s chemistry magic show was her favorite thing she saw all day, she said.
“The experiments he did were so simple, but they didn’t look simple,” she said.
Michael Spangler, dean of CSN’s School of Advanced and Applied Technologies, praised the school district’s several career and technical academies for increasing interest in younger students.
“We’ve got to promote this to middle school and early high school students,” he said. “The (career and technology academies) are wonderful. All of us at the college just think they hung the moon when they built those.
“The key to that is getting to the middle school kids. In order to start, you have to make that decision in January of the eighth-grade year.”
Spangler said he hopes the fair may have inspired some students to enroll at CSN and its several associate degree programs.
“Enrollment is down a little at the college as a whole,” said Spangler, “but in these technical areas, enrollment is through the roof, especially in the high-tech, high-demand, high-wage jobs, such as electronics and engineering technology.
“We have degrees with wonderful placement opportunities. The problem we have is some of these disciplines lack sex appeal.
“You think about being a network technician. It’s a great job in high demand with a high wage; it’s just not necessarily sexy.”
Contact View education reporter Jeff Mosier at email@example.com or 702-224-5524.