Adams State University STEM Saturdays begin August 26

ALAMOSA – The Adams State University Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Saturdays begin August 26. These free interactive sessions will stimulate imagination and curiosity of students.

All sessions are designed with specific grade-level, developmentally appropriate lessons in mind. Registration is required for the sessions.

Sessions are scheduled from 9 a.m. until noon. Enrollment is limited.

August 26 – Biodiesel and Soap from Palm Oil, Dr. Alexey Leontyev, assistant professor of chemistry, grades 9-12; enrollment cap is 8.

September 16 – Exploring Infectious Disease with Molecular Tools, Dr. Adam Kleinschmit, assistant professor of biology, grades 6-8; enrollment cap is 16.

October 14 – Learning to Run the World with Electronics, Dr. Matt Nehring, professor of physics, grades 4-6; enrollment cap is 10.

November 11 – Investigations in Sweet Chemistry, Dr. Alexey Leontyev, assistant professor of chemistry, grades 9-12; enrollment cap is 8.

November 18 – Radioactivity in our World, Sandra Wagner, grades 11-12; enrollment cap is 10.

Registration for all sessions is required. Once registered, participants will receive the location of session and any other pertinent information. Only parent/guardian authorized registrations will be accepted. Session registrations are limited to 2 sessions per student. No cost to participants.

Workshop Information:

Biodiesel and Soap from Palm Oil: Palm oil is a wonderfully versatile and cheap raw material. Via chemical derivatives, the oil makes its way into many useful products ranging from fine cosmetics to biodiesel fuels. We will perform chemical transformations that will convert palm oil into soap and biodiesel fuel. Participants can keep soap bars after they complete the experiment.

Exploring Infectious Disease with Molecular Tools: Participants will mimic a foodborne infectious disease outbreak investigation and design an experiment using molecular tools. Specifically, the session will train participants to think like an epidemiologist in order to determine the most likely source of a bacterial foodborne outbreak. The participants will learn to use micropipettes to disperse small volumes of amplified DNA into an agrose gel in order to separate and view genetic markers for identifying the presence/absence of the infectious bacterium in potentially contaminated food samples.

Learning to Run the World with Electronics: Using the Littlebits platform of electronic building blocks, students will learn about electronics, build complex circuits and design a motorized cart. Students will develop technical and engineering skills while exploring creative solutions to problems.

Investigations in Sweet Chemistry: Is milk sweet? Does it have sugar in it? Is it the same kind of sugar that you can find in candies? How can you prove it? Maybe we can run some tests to confirm it? In this activity, we will isolate milk sugar from dry milk and then run a series of tests to identify it. This method is called qualitative analysis and is often used in chemistry to test for the presence or absence of a certain compound.

Radioactivity in our World: The session will include an overview of what ionizing radiation is and where it comes from (sun and earth). Visual demonstration of radioactive particle cloud chamber. Hands-on use of alpha, beta, and gamma sources to determine effects of time, distance, and shielding on activity. Discussion of beneficial uses of radioactivity: x-rays, cancer treatment, food safety, nuclear power.

For more information or a reservation form, contact Jayson Mitchell, STEM activity coordinator, at 719-587-7586 or [email protected]. Registration forms are also available at

Caption: Dr. Matt Nehring describes to STEM participants how to run the world with electronics. He will lead this same course on October 14. STEM Saturdays begin August 26 and are free for participants. Registration is required. Courtesy photo by Daniel Parsons