UNIVERSITY CENTER — Saginaw Valley State University and The Dow Chemical Co. leaders unveiled a new mobile research laboratory during a ceremony at the univesrity Wednesday, Jan. 27.
The mobile lab is a 30-foot-long recreational vehicle outfitted with scientific equipment to travel to K-12 schools in Michigan’s Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond.
The intent of the lab is to introduce students to hands-on learning opportunities, and ultimately increase interest in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, math). It also will travel to various locations as part of research activities for Saginaw Valley State students, as well as faculty and K-12 students and teachers involved in the Dow Science and Sustainability Education Center at SVSU.
The university purchased the lab as part of the Dow Science and Sustainability Education Center, which was established under a gift from The Dow Chemical Co. Foundation.
“We are very grateful to Dow for their generous support, and we share their goal of increasing opportunities for students to pursue careers in STEM,” said Deborah Huntley, SVSU provost and a former research chemist. “This sort of community engagement empowers our students and faculty to pursue ambitious research and learning endeavors, while collaborating with our corporate and educational partners to inspire the next generation.”
The mobile lab is equipped with scientific instruments selected to allow K-12 students to analyze soil and water samples collected in the Saginaw Bay watershed. It also will provide for the study of alternative energy.
“The mobile lab is an innovative approach to bring science directly to the students and get them excited about learning,” said Rich Wells, Dow vice president and site leader of Michigan Operations. “Dow understands how crucial it is to improve access to science, technology, engineering and math education for all students, and to help them see the opportunities that STEM skills can provide.”
Wells is also a member of the board of directors of The Engineering Society of Detroit.
Students in teacher Craig Coopersmith’s science class at White Pine Middle School in Saginaw Township were invited to the ceremony and the first to tour the mobile lab and use the instruments.
Saginaw Valley State expects to begin making school visits with the mobile lab later this year. Those interested in arranging a visit should contact David Karpovich, H.H. Dow Endowed Chair in Chemistry and director of the Dow Science and Sustainability Education Center, at (989) 964-4349 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
University faculty and staff designed the lab in cooperation with Farber Specialty Vehicles in Columbus, Ohio, who built the vehicle.
The Dow Science and Sustainability Education Center at SVSU was established to enhance STEM education in the Great Lakes Bay Region at all levels. It features a summer internship research program that promotes collaboration between high school students, teachers, SVSU students and SVSU faculty mentors. The center also aims to engage the broader community with its mobile science lab, through which citizens will have opportunities to participate in scientific studies of the Saginaw Bay Watershed as well as green chemistry, biodiversity, and alternate energy.
(Photos by Mike Randolph, Saginaw Valley State University.)