For years, the Franklin Institute has served as a fun and informative trip for people of all ages. It also serves an important role in enriching the Philadelphia community by cultivating an interest or an appreciation of science amongst the area’s youth. From April 20–28, the Institute will hold the Philadelphia Science Festival: a yearly event for learners of all ages in the Philadelphia area. Volunteers are gathered from both academia and industry alike, including Drexel University student Matthew Levine, a chemistry major and the current president of the Drexel American Chemical Society (ACS) student organization. Levine has volunteered at the event twice, with the first time being in his freshman year.
For the event, various booths showcasing applications of mathematics, chemistry, biology, physics and engineering are prepared in a special hall in the Institute. Upon arrival, the volunteers receive their orientation and are assigned to booths were their knowledge can be best used. Levine recalls working at a booth focused around polymers and what can be made from them: in his case, bouncy balls.
“We talked about polymers before in CHEM 123,” Levine said. “When we made bouncy balls for the kids, we mixed Borax and glue together which formed a polymer.” Borax is also known as sodium borate and commonly used detergents and cosmetics.
Levine said his favorite part of the event was “probably interacting with the kids. They were all extremely interested in how everything worked, and it was great to see the joy on their faces when the balls actually bounced.” Levine went on to talk about the type of impact that the event has on the community, adding, “It gets kids interested in science at a young age, which doesn’t always happen. They see how fun it can be and it educates them on how it all works.” Children who do have a pre-disposition towards STEM fields tend to be very inquisitive when it comes to science, so an event like this is great for them.
The representatives from different industries get to talk to the children about how they put science to use and are able to cover a wide range of topics with their considerable knowledge.
“It shows how much we all care about inspire kids to pursue science,” Levine remarked about the industry professionals. This event serves as a highlight for his time at Drexel and was a great way to make a positive impact on his community by using the knowledge he gained at Drexel.
By Robert Burg, a senior chemistry major in the College of Arts and Sciences and a Pennoni Honors College student, as part of the winter 2018 “Writing for Drexel Publication” Pennoni Honors College course.