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CCGA hosts fourth annual science, math expo for middle and high school students
Posted 03/04/2016 12:48PM

By ANNA HALL The Brunswick News

On a traditional day, the College of Coastal Georgia's campus is chock full of students eager to learn and absorb the most out of their education.

On Friday, though, the student population was noticeably tweaked. Much younger academics were walking the hallways of the Brunswick institution.

Now in its fourth year, the college's Math and Science Expo, sponsored by Pinova, brings in hundreds of students from middle and high schools throughout the southern and coastal regions of Georgia. Students from Glynn, Brantley, Camden, Charlton, McIntosh and Wayne counties flocked to the school to participate in hands-on activities and academic bowl competitions offered by the School of Arts and Sciences.

A full slate of middle and high school bowl competitions, as well as a long list of activities centered on photography, computing and game development, creative writing, health care, fossils, cooking, forensic science, face transplantation, chemistry, physics and anatomy and physiology, were offered during the event.

An information table for parents and teachers was made available to provide materials about programs at College of Coastal Georgia.

Among the more than 450 students who headed to the campus for the academic-heavy event was Jane Macon Middle School student Gracie Bratcher.

"This is my second time coming to this, and it gets better every time, with every activity," said Gracie, a seventh-grader at the middle school. "You get to ask all these questions, and there is always something new to learn. I just love science. There is always something new to learn, some new question to ask, some new solution to find. I really want to have a job in a science field when I get older, so learning as much as I can now will really pay off."

During a hands-on base and acid testing course led by Andrea Wallace, assistant vice president for academic planning who doubles as a chemistry professor at the college, Gracie and her peers took turns testing various types of chemicals to register the level of acidity.

Students with outlooks like Gracie's are exactly what Wallace and fellow professors were hoping to develop during the one-day expo. Science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, curriculum will be major aspects of academics for students of Gracie's age now and when they enter college and career pathways.

Helping students spur energetic attitudes at a younger age will pay off in dividends years from now, she said.

"I love when kids get this excited about scientific endeavors," Wallace said. "Every year, this event gets bigger and bigger, and that's just what we hope for. To see students react with such excitement, to really get into these hands-on activities and all the other events we have happening, it's just a thrill."

Aside from instilling a solid sense of STEM love in students, the event is a time to expose students to the college campus, which may help with decision-making efforts if students consider either dual-enrollment courses in high school, or are looking ahead at their higher education options, Wallace said.

"The students really take away a wealth of knowledge from this one day," Wallace said. "And I have to say, I have just as much fun as they do."

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