YES Days held at WSCC

Hundreds of seventh and eighth grade students from schools throughout Washington County gained some hands-on experience with potential engineering and science-related careers during YES (Young Engineers and Scientists) Days at Washington State Community College Thursday, with activities to continue today.

Waterford Elementary seventh-grader Leeann Trippett was among several students who took a brief ride on the “Seatbelt Convincer” from DuPont’s Washington Works Thursday.

The mechanism simulates a car crash at 5 mph while the rider wears a seatbelt.

“It really helps you understand how badly you can get hurt in a car wreck if you’re not wearing a seatbelt,” Trippett said.

Heather Shore, a safety and health manager for DuPont, said the company also had a second “fun with science” exhibit to teach students about the concept of buoyancy.

“Teams of students were asked to see how many pennies they could float on a sheet of aluminum foil,” she said. “The top team floated 343 pennies.”

DuPont was one of 40 local science and engineering-related industries, businesses, college departments and government agencies taking part in the two-day event.

Some of the participating entities included the NASA Glenn Research Center, Farrar Scientific, Friends of the Lower Muskingum, Duke Energy, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio State University Extension Office, Solvay Specialty Polymers, Walgreens and the Memorial Health System, among others.

“Local businesses and industries love this because it’s an opportunity for them to share some of their knowledge with many students from one location,” said Mary Lou Moegling, a member of the YES Days organizing committee.

She said every seventh and eighth grade student in Washington County would attend the event on Thursday and Friday.

“We want to get these students thinking more about taking math and science courses during their school years,” Moegling said. “But they’re also seeing what the college classroom atmosphere is like, a lot different than high school classes.”

She noted both WSCC and Marietta College provided exhibits during YES Days.

Trippett said the YES Days experience would help as she tries to figure out a possible future career.

“I’ve thought about working with engines, but I also like chemistry and seeing the reactions from mixing different chemicals,” she said. “I liked one exhibit where they dipped a rose into liquid nitrogen. When the rose was pulled out of the nitrogen a red liquid came out that we could paint with.”

Lance Valentine, a Marietta College biochemistry major who works with Stonebridge Operating, an oil and gas company in Fleming, helped students mix some common household substances to develop a liquid with a similar consistency to hydraulic fracturing fluids.

“We’re learning about horizontal and vertical fracking,” said Daryn Cochran, a seventh-grader from Frontier Middle School, after dipping a finger into the concoction he’d just mixed up.

Fellow Frontier student Seth Felton said he’s already had some firsthand experience with hydraulic fracturing.

“There’s a lot of it going on near my home,” he said.

Valentine said he recalls attending YES Days when he was a youngster.

“I went to New Matamoras Elementary and was in the seventh grade,” he said. “I think that experience did help me. I’ve always been interested in chemistry.”

Chip Pickering, founder of Pickering Energy Solutions, talked to the students about solar energy and brought one of the most popular displays to the YES Days event-his 2010 Tesla Roadster.

“It’s powered by solar electricity,” said Haven Walters from Waterford Elementary School.

Pickering said the vehicle obtains its “fuel” from electricity generated by solar panels that can be installed on a home.

“Using solar power provides the equivalent of 95 miles per gallons of gasoline,” he told the students. “These are the cars you’ll be driving in the future, and you’re the people who we need to help make that change.”