ARLINGTON - A UT Arlington chemistry professor and his students
will leave their lab for the State Fair of Texas this weekend, bringing with
them fun experiments they hope will get students excited about science.
The first-time exhibit is funded by the National Science Foundation as part of
Diversity in Science in the United States or DISCUS, a program started by assistant
professor Kevin Schug. The DISCUS booth will feature live experiments
demonstrating concepts like density and gravity and some "chemistry
magic." Features on famous minority and
women scientists and microscope-aided lessons on microorganisms will also be
part of the action.
"We wanted to reach as large a group of people as
possible," said Schug, whose research focuses on developing new methods for
drug discovery. "It occurred to me, here is a very large and diverse group of
people that you could communicate science to. The fair just seemed like the
perfect fit and it's just right down the road."
Schug and his students have spent the summer
preparing thousands of goodie bags of take-home experiments for all ages. The exhibit is open through Oct. 5.
Schug's DISCUS project also includes a recently
launched website where teachers publish, search and share peer-reviewed
lesson materials. Featured lesson plans will be highly interactive and
particularly appealing to limited English proficiency or LEP students. The
lessons will use two research-tested models - "sheltered instruction operation
protocol" or SIOP and the 5E method. The
5E method provides an optimal series of steps for a classroom lesson and stands
for engage, explore, explain, elaborate and evaluate.
The SIOP model is an engaging, hands-on style of
teaching that incorporates graphical elements, said Jennifer Cruze, a chemistry
teacher from Carroll High School in Southlake. Cruze has been working with
Schug to develop the DISCUS site.
"Those strategies are strategies that we mainly see
in elementary school and then they seem to drop away from the curriculum. So what it
does is it brings back in those things and makes the learning more meaningful
no matter what language you speak," said Cruze, who is also the winner of the
DFW chapter of the American Chemical Society's 2010 Werner Shulz award for
The DISCUS website, www.uta.edu/discus, also includes
activities for students as well as a list of more than 400 programs that aid
minority and LEP students at universities and colleges across the country. A
map of the DISCUS booth location at the State Fair is also available.
DISCUS is the public outreach portion of Schug's
$550,000 CAREER award from the NSF. The majority of that grant work focuses on
using mass spectrometry to study interactions between molecules.
This year, Schug was
the lone recipient of the Eli Lilly and Company Young Investigator Award in
Analytical Chemistry. The national honor comes with an unrestricted $50,000,
the opportunity to renew the grant for a second year and a lifetime
opportunity to collaborate with the Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.