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ROCK program promotes science throughout community

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SFU’s ROCK program  – Rural Outreach Chemistry for Kids – seeks to inspire children to look into the field of science.

This year, ROCK extended its efforts to reach teachers. ROCK members led workshops for teachers at the Pittsburgh Conference Science Week, held Oct. 20-25.

Another new event for ROCK this semester was participation at the Hollidaysburg Lutheran Home Fall Fest on Sept. 15.

Chemistry Professor Ed Zovinka and several students lead the organization’s outreach efforts. Student leaders include seniors Grace McKernan, Bryant Onkst and Paul Kasunic and sophomore Devon Tozer.

New leaders in training include junior Josie Gabler and freshmen Anthony Vassalotti, Kayla Rosas and Madison Palmer.

“I do ROCK because I think it’s important to get kids excited about science,” said McKernan.

“Sometimes kids don’t get how important science can be in their daily lives. They get a hands-on experience in the classroom that they might not have otherwise, which is beneficial and conducive to learning.”

ROCK members travel to schools around the local area to conduct science experiments with students. Teachers select an activity that either fits their curriculum or that they are interested in sharing with their students.

Some of the schools that ROCK members have visited this year include Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic High School, Holy Trinity Catholic School, Hollidaysburg Elementary and High School, North Star High School, Tyrone High School, Divine Mercy Catholic Academy, St. Michael School and St. Patrick Catholic School.

“ROCK has been impacting K-12 students through individual classroom visits over the years,” said Zovinka. “By expanding our efforts by working with teachers in our area and Pittsburgh, our positive impact will grow.”

Partnered with SFU’s Chemistry Club, ROCK has continued the “DONUTS” initiative this year. DONUTS stands for Donating to Underfunded Teachers of Science. This effort has raised up to $750 annually and has sold around 200 dozen doughnuts. The money raised is used as a grant for science teachers at local diocesan schools.

The ROCK program is supported by the Chemistry Club and external grants. Support also comes from the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh (SACP).

The SACP is a non-profit organization that focuses on advancing analytical chemistry through science education. The Thomas Automotive family also supports the program by donating a van to the organization.

Members of the Chemistry and ROCK clubs will be selling doughnuts on campus this Thursday and Friday from 11-3 p.m.

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