UNE hosts third successful Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival

June 10, 2015

Students explore underwater remotely operated vehicles
Students explore underwater remotely operated vehicles
RSU 21 students examine specimen through a microscope
RSU 21 students examine specimen through a microscope
RSU 21 students being led through lab discussion
RSU 21 students being led through lab discussion

On March 28, 2015, approximately 200 fifth grade students from the RSU 21 school system came to UNE’s Biddeford Campus to participate in the third annual Julia Robinson Mathematics Festival.

The goal of the festival was to create an environment for students to participate in challenging math and science activities in a fun and engaging way. It was co-sponsored by the RSU 21 school system and UNE’s Office of Research and Scholarship

During the morning session, RSU 21 teachers and administrators led students through a variety of math activities in the upper cafeteria of Decary Hall. After lunch, students broke into groups across campus to participate in break-out science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) sessions conducted by UNE faculty and staff.

“The partnership between the RSU 21 and UNE communities is a perfect example of the wonderful things that are happening in education,” stated District STEM Coordinator Sheila Wells. “ In addition to UNE, we have the generous support of the Education Foundation of the Kennebunks and Arundel, as well as Corning, Inc.”

STEM Activities included:

  • Mathematics activities led by Assistant Lecturer Ryan Hedstrom, M.S.T.; Visiting Assistant Lecturer Susan Bell, M.A.; Assistant Professor Woon Yuen Koh, Ph.D.; and Amita Mittal, M.S.
  • Marine Science activities led by Associate Professor and Assistant Department Chair Markus Frederich, Ph.D.; graduate students Ryan Knotek, Connor Capizzano, Peter Schotte and Laura Ellis; and undergraduate students Lars Hammer, Melanie Kolacy, Nora Wells, and Peter Swan
  • Histology and Imaging activities led by Histology and Imaging Core Lab Manager Peter Caradonna, B.S.
  • Biology activities led by Associate Professor Kerry Tucker, Ph.D.
  • Neuroscience activities led by Neuroscience K-12 Outreach Program Coordinators Alex Deal, B.S., and Cassandra Simmons, B.S., as well as undergraduates Crystal Nason and Victoria Eaton
  • Genetics activities led by Professor Geoff Ganter, Ph.D.
  • Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) test led by Associate Clinical Professor and Clinical Education Coordinator Chris Rizzo, M.S., A.T.C., L.A.T., C.S.C.S.

Vice President for Research and Scholarship Edward Bilsky, Ph.D., remarked, “We are thrilled to once again host the RSU 21 fifth graders for the Mathematics Festival and science activities. This is the third year of our partnership and something that the UNE faculty and student participants look forward to each spring. The kids are so enthusiastic about the topics, and it is great to see the teachers and many parents and volunteers engaged with them during the activities.”

One of the activities held within the Marine Science Center involved an underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The ROVs, which were developed by juniors and seniors from Kennebunk High School as well as UNE students, were set up within one of the Marine Science Center’s research tanks, allowing the fifth graders the opportunity to operate these underwater vehicles.

Associate Professor of the Marine Sciences and Assistant Department Chair Markus Frederich, Ph.D., stated, “Sharing our facilities at the Marine Science Center with these highly motivated students from Kennebunk High and Middle School is fascinating. Their depth of knowledge about the ROVs is amazing. These students are the next generation of scientists, engineers or other leaders. The energy in the room with all of the students and faculty talking about science and engineering is what modern education is all about!”

Matt Scheuer, a UNE Student and developer of one of the ROVs, also stated, “I was very impressed by the high school projects, and it was great to see the fifth graders get so excited about ocean science. The kids picked up ROV piloting incredibly fast with almost no instruction. Both groups were seriously engaged and clearly learned a lot. It was another good example of how important hands-on learning experiences are for students of all ages.”

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