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First-Year Nursing Students Participate in Service-Learning Project at Local Elementary School

April 11, 2024

Alliance, Ohio - Nursing students at the University of Mount Union took part in the CHE 115 Service Learning Project (SLP) at Washington Elementary School, where they performed and explained chemistry demonstrations to elementary students related to real-life medical or health science.

Dr. Sheryl Mason, associate professor of chemistry, has been doing this project for several years and resumed it in 2023 after taking a break as a result of COVID-19. Mason's goal for the first-year nursing majors is to research, learn and explain the college-level chemistry behind a fun demonstration. The students then practice teaching the science in a kid-friendly, fun, simplified, yet accurate way. This project is a component of the laboratory part of the course, with some sections also taught this spring by Dr. Keith Miller, associate professor of biochemistry.

The SLP spans several weeks of lab work where Mount Union students are assigned a chemistry demonstration to research and practice their research on classmates, and then, a level down to fourth and fifth-grade students at the Washington Elementary school. The goal is for the elementary students to learn something new in the chemistry field, get hands-on experience and interact with college nursing students. Mason hopes that this project will help educate those who might one day aspire to go into a STEM-related field.

This semester's projects include demonstrations that showcase acid-based chemistry, catalysis of chemical reactions, endothermic and exothermic reactions, polymer chemistry, electrolytes and effects of change in gas pressure. These experiments all have fun names like, "Making Goo Worms," "Jumbo Fresh: Elephant's Toothpaste" and "Colorful World of Stomach Acid."

Mason's overall goal with the project is to promote science and its importance in our everyday lives (in this case with emphasis on the human body, health and medicine) to many in the community. This is a unique project for nursing students to lead, but further illustrates the intersection of chemistry and nursing while being grounded in the liberal arts. This project does not just impact students required to take this course, it also affects elementary students, teachers and the parents/families of the fourth and fifth-grade students.

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