Mar 172005
Authors: Sara Crocker

To get involved with Little Shop of Physics, contact Brian Jones at 491-5131.

To learn more about Native American Student Services and its programs, you can visit their office in room 218 of the Lory Student Center.

While some students will spend their Spring Break experimenting with different degrees of sunscreen protection factor (SPF), students from Native American Student Services and Little Shop of Physics will be conducting experiments of a different kind.

The students will be traveling to the Four Corners area, visiting two reservation schools to teach students about science and get students thinking about college and careers in the sciences, said NASS director Ty Smith.

"I think it's important to stimulate their interest in the sciences and also for them to see role models and that college is an option for them," he said.

The group of about 15 CSU students will travel to Ojo Amarillo Elementary School in Fruitland, N.M., first. This is a Navajo Nation reservation school. Next, they will go to the Southern Ute Education Center in Ignacio.

The group will help teach science three ways, said Brian Jones, director of Little Shop of Physics. First, the students will bring about 80 "experiments," which have all been created by undergraduates. Jones said the kids learn about physics and science through hands-on interaction in small groups.

The experiments, such as one involving a humidifier that has been modified so that it blows out condensed water to resemble a cloud, are made from common household items. He said this would help demystify some students' notions that science is too hard.

"I never wanted to do a show," Jones said of his desire to let kids be a part of the action. "We want it to be, 'Oh, no, look at the cool stuff you can do.'"

Erin Stransky, a senior biology major who has worked at Little Shop for the past year, said she hopes that the students will have fun learning about science.

"I always hope that the kids go away thinking science can be fun and interactive and all around you," she said.

The group will also be putting on a workshop for teachers to show them cheap and easy ways to make science more interactive.

Last, the group will be presenting a family science night, to get the entire family involved.

"It gives parents and kids a chance to do something academic together and also gets parents in the schools," Jones said. "That's the most fun thing I think because there's just something special about getting the family there."

This will be the second year that the little shop has visited Ojo Amarillo. This year surrounding schools have been invited to participate in the events.

Alice Day-Lewis, principal of Ojo Amarillo, said she is excited to see the group come back and to have more of the region involved.

"The goal is really to use this to bring people together, too, and to give us a sense of community," she said.

The vast majority of students at the elementary school are Navajo, and Day-Lewis said it is nice to for them to meet college students with a similar background to see that there are opportunities for them outside their hometown.

This trip serves as a way to educate, but it also reaches out to underrepresented students, Smith said. He said this is a good way to get young students to think about going to college, especially since some of these students will be the first from their families to attend college.

Seth Mund, senior horticulture major, said he is going on the trip to get more involved. He is a member of NASS and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society. He said he is looking forward to teaching kids about science while putting smiles on their faces.

Five members of the group, including alumni who will be volunteering, are Native American, Smith said. Carmen George, an environmental health master's student who lives on the Navajo reservation, said she is volunteering for the second time to help give back to her community.

"It helps me to know I'm helping Native American youth," she said.

Jones agreed and said he also looks forward to this trip to see the students work as a team and to let them experience a different culture.

"I think it's really good for our students at CSU to see some different parts of the world," Jones said. "This is a place where it really is culturally quite different."

Jones said they plan to visit an Apache reservation in New Mexico later this year.

He said he encourages students to consider participating with these workshops in the future.

"You don't have to have any background to be curious and explore."



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