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RCCC hosts STEM open house

By Rebecca Rider

rebecca.rider@salisburypost.com

KANNAPOLIS — Friday was a day of science and fun at the Rowan-Cabarrus Community College STEM open house.

Students from three school systems thronged the halls of RCCC’s location at the N.C. Research Campus on Friday morning, testing out crutches and wheelchairs, racing to figure out an accident victim’s blood type and learning about the spread of infection.

While the event was a chance to showcase courses of study at RCCC, it’s not your average open house. Director of College Relations Paula Dibley said the college had a regular open house for years, but realized that getting handed a brochure wasn’t appealing to many students. So they switched to a more hands-on approach.

Now in it’s fifth year, the STEM open house calls for every department to put on a colorful show and ramp up excitement for science, technology, engineering and math. The campus doors were thrown open Thursday evening as the community streamed in, and schools paid a visit Friday morning.

Each department sets up an informational booth, inviting students to learn about pH balances in hair dye, immunizations, the effect of sugar on the digestive tract, movement and mobility and Alzheimer’s. With the flood of information and an interactive side, it was part open house, part science fair.

Dibley said the goal for every department – even the humanities – was to find some way to focus on STEM, and all booths had an activity. The dental department encouraged kids to make their own toothpaste, or try to place a filling on a lab dummy, manufacturing departments brought 3D printers and virtual welding machines and nursing programs illustrated the dangers of smoking.

And it shows students all the different routes a degree – or a love of STEM – can take.

“I really like it,” Chidi Osakwe, a junior at North Rowan High School said. “I like how they show you different jobs and give you different views of every field.”

At a booth on the second floor, Vanessa Wilson, a student at Knox Middle School, races to put a puzzle together. It’s a memory test. Wilson said she’s loved learning about memory and aging, and has had a great time at the open house.

“It’s amazing,” she said.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264.

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