STEMM Event Held For 7th Graders

If you want a drink of water, there is usually a faucet or water fountain nearby where you are able to quench your thirst. You also usually do not have to question whether or not the water is safe to drink. Some people who live in remote villages in Africa can now also have safe drinking water thanks to a Pur packet filter system which removes the harmful toxins from water in less than a half hour.

The lesson was just one of several that 7th grade students from St. Albert the Great, St. Christopher, and St. Peter schools learned when they visited CJ on Tuesday.

This week marks National Environmental Education Week and Earth Day. In conjunction with this movement, CJ hosted the middle school students for an annual event themed “Greening STEM.”  Students learned how they can protect, preserve, and produce clean water, calculated their ecological footprints, and compared the energy required to support local versus global food systems.

"You all can pursue a career in environmental science and engineering and help solve some real big global challenges in the future, like access to clean water and feeding 9 billion people in the world by 2050," Director of Admissions Brett Chmiel '02 told the group.

The 125 students were divided into five groups named after careers which can be pursued with a background in STEM courses: Chemists, Environmental Engineers, Environmental Scientists, Biologists and Civil Engineers. Each group attended five activity sessions, selected by CJ STEMM Coordinator Meg Draeger, which focused on helping the environment. Four CJ alumni offered their expertise in the science and environmental fields and facilitated some sessions.

Amy Lynch '99 and Barb Miller '96, both work at the Air Force Research Laboratory. During their session, students learned about the process of making bio-fuel and how the gases from that material are produced.   Miller said she wanted to come back to CJ to show students they can start thinking about their futures now. 

"Science is a viable career. It's not just someone in the lab wearing glasses and safety apparel. I want the students to see someone approachable," Miller expressed.

Marsha Loges '63, SND, Keith Hanley, SND, and Alyssa Jenkins, UD ETHOS, gave students a firsthand look at how a small packet of chemicals put in dirty water can purify it within minutes. The packets  only costs 10 cents and can purify up to 2.5 gallons of water at a time, according to Hanley. The group also showed students how a solar electricity generating system, created through the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Photovoltaic Project, can immensely better the lives of those same people in Africa.  You can learn more about the Photovoltaic Project here.

Felicia Graham '86 works for the City of Dayton as an Environmental Compliance Coordinator. During her presentation, she explained and demonstrated what students can do daily to help preserve water resources.

"Once our water resources are destroyed, they are destroyed forever," Graham said. "We're trying to enlist people to protect our water resources. If we start building environmental stewards now, we'll make a better resource of water for them in the future."

Chmiel gave students a challenge before they left CJ, "take what you learn today, and these real life issues, back to your schools and do something powerful with them."