Bob Jones Science Challenge instills young students’ STEM respect

MADISON – STEM is alive and well in the minds of Madison children.


Close to 100 students tested their aptitude for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at the Bob Jones Science Challenge on March 26. Bob Jones seniors Neha Chopade and Puja Chopade coordinated the event.


Contestants represented all elementary schools in the Madison City Schools district. The children participated in several fun, STEM-related events to accelerate their interest in physics, biology, chemistry and science arts.


Hosts were Bob Jones Science Academy and student volunteers from Bob Jones and James Clemens high schools.


The day started with a 45-minute, multiple-choice science test, followed by fun labs and activities:


* Stethoscope Lab — Listened to a heartbeat with a stethoscope/doppler. Taking blood pressure.


* Microscope Lab — Adjusted objective lenses with coarse and fine focus while viewing various specimens from the human body, pigs, mice, cats, frogs and carcinogenic human cells.


* HudsonAlpha Lab — Extracted strawberry DNA using 50 kits from HudsonAlpha Educational Outreach.


* Element Egg Hunt — Hunted for Easter eggs and identified the element corresponding to atomic number in the egg.


* Chemistry Cake Walk – Walked around an element circle until Periodic Table song stopped. Students landing on their element won a cupcake.


* CPR Lab – Learned CPR steps for unconscious victim (adult and infant).


* Miscellaneous – Included poster contests, cartoons and Science Bingo.


“The entire event was free for all participants and generously sponsored by i3 Cares, a community outreach and charitable organization of i3 Corps,” Puja Chopade said.


i3 Cares’ vision is to invest, inspire and integrate with the community by volunteering, education and community development, while improving quality of life. Jamie King is i3 Cares President.


i3 Cares volunteers “were awestruck that fourth-graders could correctly answer questions on ribosome function, along with converting between Celsius and Fahrenheit correctly,” Neha Chopade said.


Kathryn Teare, Bob Jones Faculty Sponsor, helped with logistics throughout the event. “She was very generous to offer her microscopes and stethoscopes for use in the labs,” Neha Chopade said.


Top-placing students in grades 3-5 won plushies, trophies, T-shirts, medals, certificates and candy. The top 15 students in grades 3-4 were invited into the Science Academy program for 2023-2024 school year,” Puja Chopade said.


Neha and Puja Chopade thanked i3 Cares team for their generous sponsorship, along with their “happy and motivated” volunteer support.


At the awards, Chris Lindsey of i3 Cares inspired the student audience. “You need to fail to learn. If you’re awesome at everything, great! But you aren’t learning if you don’t fail,” Lindsey said. “We need to foster this next generation of STEM/STEAM lovers.


Lindsey acknowledged parents’ roles in nurturing an interest in science while their children are young.


“Parents were thankful for the opportunity to have their students experience such a trailblazing and free science event right here in Madison,” a volunteer said. “The challenge . . . all organized and conducted by high school students passionate about extending their love for science to younger students in the community.”


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