UW-Oshkosh: answers call for more scientists

CONTACT: Susie Sandrin, (920) 424-7404

OSHKOSH – In his State of the Union message, President Bush said American students need a firm grounding in math and science to stay competitive in the world economic market.

If she was watching that address, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Science Outreach coordinator Susie Sandrin could have said, “Told you so!”

Sandrin and her predecessors in the program’s office on the first-floor of the university’s Halsey Science Center have been preaching that message for years.

Science Outreach programs­including scientist-in-residence, chemistry demonstrations, Science Olympiad, Science Safari, Junior Badge Day­try to get young people interested in science.

The program, started more than 15 years ago in the chemistry department but now located in its own office next to the UW System Women and Science Program, has encouraged many students to go on to study science in college.

“Through our programs, we have tried to make science interesting and fun for young people,” said Sandrin, who is also director of the UW System Women and Science Program. “And we don’t ignore parents and families, because if they don’t think it’s important, their children won’t.”

Many Science Outreach programs bring parents along with their children to university science labs and Buckstaff Planetarium to show them the fun and importance of science.

Over the next several weeks, Science Outreach has scheduled several programs to boost science knowledge and interest. This summer, it will launch a series of four-day science summer camps and one-day, advanced-topic courses for students in grades 3-8.

· Saturday, March 4, Junior Badge Day, for Girl Scouts. So far, 91 girls have signed up to come to UW-Oshkosh to earn a science badge. UW-Oshkosh student assistants will lead the sessions.

· March 13-15, scientist-in-residence program at St. John the Baptist school in Green Bay. UW-Oshkosh student teams will bring hands-on science to the students.

· Thursday, March 16, Science Carnival at Roosevelt School, Neenah. Students and their parents will visit science stations to learn science concepts taught in a hands-on environment by UW-Oshkosh students.

· Friday, March 17, “Astronomy is for Girls, Too.” With funding from NASA, 75 middle school girls from schools in Omro, Rosendale/Brandon and Kewaunee will come to UW-Oshkosh to do hands-on, science activities related to astronomy. This will be the second of three events in the program. The first was Jan. 24. The final one is May 23.

All activities are led by at least one woman instructor, exposing the girls to positive female role models.

· 7 p.m. Friday, March 24, “A Deeper Look Public Planetarium Show.” Admission is $3, $2 for UW-Oshkosh students and children; Buckstaff Planetarium, located behind Halsey Science Center, 921 Elmwood Ave.

· Tuesday, April 11, Webster Stanley Elementary School students and parents will attend “Parent/Kid Night” at Buckstaff Planetarium, located behind Halsey Science Center.

· 7 p.m. Friday, April 21, “Starry Nights­Spring Skies Public Planetarium Show.” Admission is $3, $2 for UW-Oshkosh students and children; Buckstaff Planetarium, located behind Halsey Science Center.

· Saturday, April 29, Middle School Science Olympiad. Fifty-four teams with 800 students plus chaperones, coaches and assistants will compete in 23 events in a daylong competition at UW-Oshkosh. Events, such as bridge building, bottle rockets and wheeled vehicles, will be open for public viewing between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. in the upstairs and downstairs gyms and on the grounds of Kolf Sports Center, 785 High Ave. Other events throughout campus will not be for public viewing.