IMPETUS helps local students

Clarkson University’s IMPETUS for Career Success program (Integrated Math and Physics for Entry to Undergraduate STEM) is for eligible seventh through 12th-grade students and is funded through a state Department of Education Science and Technology Entry Program. Clarkson University photo

POTSDAM — Clarkson University’s IMPETUS for Career Success program (Integrated Math and Physics for Entry to Undergraduate STEM) is for eligible seventh- through 12th-grade students and is funded through a state Department of Education Science and Technology Entry Program.

Despite the pandemic challenges, the program continues to thrive and provides students with academic enrichment and research experience in science, mathematics, and technology content areas and consists of summer and academic year components. IMPETUS activities range from a computer programming game challenge, conducting original research projects for a statewide competition, interacting with college mentors and licensed STEM professionals, to designing and analyzing a model roller coaster.

On Nov. 4, Clarkson’s IMPETUS held a virtual campus visit with roughly 50 attendees. More than 30 middle and high school students and teachers from 8 local school districts participated in the event led by Clarkson faculty and students from Beacon and Potsdam campuses. Participants received STEM kits prior to the event so they had all the equipment they needed to complete their experiments at home while on Zoom with the whole group. Students conducted a water displacement test to find the volume of a (small) pumpkin using a Halloween bucket. Then, using toothpicks and a range of candy (candy corn pumpkins, gummy bears, and snack-sized chocolate bars) they created a structure that would hold up their pumpkin. This activity was facilitated in breakout rooms with Clarkson student helpers and graduate fellows Joe Judge (Computer Science) and Freddie Amoah-Darko (Mathematics). The event was a huge success and plans are underway already for a December event. See an example below submitted by Hannah Richards, grade 9 at Brasher Falls.

STEP has been in existence at Clarkson since 2006 and is funded jointly by the University to support 180 seventh- through 12th-grade students annually. Drs. Katie Kavanagh (Mathematics) and Mike Ramsdell (Physics) are the program directors with support from faculty fellows Drs. Josh Thomas (Physics), Jen Knack (Psychology), and Ben Galluzzo (Institute for STEM Education). The program has traditionally served 11 school districts across St. Lawrence, Jefferson, and Franklin Counties and this year they are working with the Beacon Central School District with coordination by Asher Pacht, Brigette Walsh, and the Beacon Institute. To get involved with K-12 Outreach or to learn more, contact Katie Kavanagh (Dept. Mathematics and Institute for STEM Education).

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