Saturday, January 31, 2004

Mobile laboratory goes to school

Madisonville: Air Force teaches pupils

By Nancy Young
Enquirer contributor

Students at Prince of Peace Catholic Elementary School were introduced to the wonders of high-tech science this week, thanks to a visit from Tech Trek.

Prince of Peace Catholic School third grader Brea Lowe, 8, and computer teacher Jolene Esz look at an insect under a microscope.
(Glenn Hartong photo)
Tech Trek is a mobile research laboratory sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory of Wright Patterson Air Force Base's Education Outreach Office. The Tech Trek bus offers what amounts to a ''reverse field trip,'' bringing students a variety of microscopes and dozens of science projects.

Wright Patterson personnel and Prince of Peace teachers worked together to create a four-day program of experiments and lesson plans tailored to each grade level of the K-8 school.

"The purpose of this project is to increase student enthusiasm for science, technology and math," said Sharon Nelson, program manager for Wright Patterson's Educational Outreach Office. "Our programs include the study of insects, butterfly scales, invertebrates, blood, crystals, sand and forensic science techniques."

Guided by Nelson, students were given free rein with magnifying glasses, light microscopes, dissecting microscopes, Intel Play microscopes with images transmitting directly to a computer screen and a $100,000 Portable Scanning Electron Microscope.

Seventh- and eighth-graders were enthused about their mission, which was to use forensic science to solve a mystery called ''The Case of the Wronged Wright Brothers,'' which focused on early experiments with flying.

Fifth-graders measured roaches and ladybugs in the "Ants and Other Icky Critters'' study.

About Tech Trek

Wright Patterson Air Force Base offers Tech Trek free to K-12 schools within a 50-mile radius of the Dayton base.

Teachers are required to complete a training course before scheduling a school visit.

For information, call (937) 904-8622 or visit ( .



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