Students explore careers at RCCC’s STEM Open House

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 6, 2019

By Andie Foley

KANNAPOLIS — Students from Cabarrus and surrounding counties were privy to hands-on learning last week through Rowan-Cabarrus Community College’s eighth annual STEM Open House.

Throughout three floors of the college’s North Carolina Research Campus building, some could be found making butter with heavy whipping cream along with college students in the early childhood development program. Others froze flowers and fruit in liquid nitrogen in the chemistry lab or calculated taxes at a pretend marketplace in the mathematics department.

Student groups were guided around the numerous activities by a mixture of faculty, staff members and college students.

Each station offered them the chance to explore science, technology, engineering and math as they related to real-world and ever-growing career choices.

“These are a lot of the fear subjects,” said Carol Scherezinger, dean of arts and sciences. “People think, ‘I can’t do it. I’m scared.’ We like to first of all open our doors and show everyone what we’re doing but also show them that you can do it and it’s possible and it’s fun.”

The open house began Thursday evening and was free and open to the public. It continued Friday with groups from local schools.

Scherezinger said the open house was part of the North Carolina Science Festival, which invites participants to showcase STEM activities, careers and more to “make things more accessible to the general public.”

For the college, the open house also offered chances to expose students and their families to the wide array of courses and career pathways available at Rowan-Cabarrus.

Many stations were manned by students and instructors in each: Dental assistant students used eggs to show the effects of soda on tooth enamel. Physical therapy assistants led students in rounds of jumping jacks. Microbiology lab instructor Linne Wallace helped students explore their dominate and recessive genes. The list goes on.

In its effort to spark curiosity and offer some brain-training fun, the open house proved to be a marked success.

“I’ve thought about my future, but I didn’t really know what I wanted to do because there’s so many things you can do,” said Mount Pleasant freshman Tia Wright. “I like how they have the kids come in here and just let them see what they do here.”

Wright said activities in biochemistry and cosmetology were of particular interest.

“The way that all the substances reacted with one another and when you find out what they do with each other, it’s really interesting,” she said.

Her classmates, juniors Kelley Wood and Hannah Linn, agreed, calling the open house “fun,” “hands-on” and “very interactive.”

“So much of what we do is STEM-based, and people just don’t realize it,” said Scherezinger. “So you show people, ‘Guess what? That all has a basis in some kind of science or math.’ It’s a great opportunity for us.”