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Students spur interest in science

We’ve heard a lot of talk about the need to get more of our young people interested in science, but high school students in the Texas Academy of Mathematics and Science program at the University of North Texas have actually done something to help make it happen.

TAMS students recently created boxes containing science experiment supplies and instructions that will be available for check-out at each branch of the Denton Public Library.

There will be approximately 30 boxes available at each library location, and the boxes will contain about three experiments focusing on the same subject — such as magnetism or chemical reactions. The boxes will also include instructions and the necessary supplies that aren’t common household goods.

The students wanted to do something to help young people in Denton get excited about science, and when they started thinking about what got them excited when they were younger, the decision was made to do hands-on experiments.

The idea originated in the Junior Engineering Technical Society club at the beginning of the fall semester, said Annabel Wang, a member of the club who helped make the boxes. About 70 volunteers worked on the project this fall, and many put in more than 50 hours of work into the project, she said.

The result is a huge range of projects, Wang told us. The boxes show the appropriate grade levels for each experiment, ranging from third to fifth grade, and what concepts the experiment should teach. Once a child completes the experiments in the box, it is returned to the library just like a book and, if necessary, library staff will restock the boxes.

The boxes are hand-decorated by the students with pictures and drawings to give the boxes “a personal touch,” Wang said, and the students have also scheduled demonstrations on using the boxes at each library.

The TAMS students will be recognized at the beginning of Tuesday’s Denton City Council meeting with an official proclamation by Mayor Mark Burroughs, showing the strength of the partnership between the city and the students.

“I think, in a larger context, it’s getting young people excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, all these sorts of things are something communities realize they need to get behind,” said Kevin Roden, assistant director of student life at TAMS.

We think the TAMS students have come up with a terrific idea, and we believe that their enthusiasm and hard work in preparing the boxed experiments could pay off in a bumper crop of young scientists.

In our view, the key factor is the personal touch — we believe more young people will respond favorably and give the experiments a try because the TAMS students created a way to share their own interests and enthusiasm.

We’d like to see more ideas like this one. Our area is filled with talented young people, and they could help us develop solutions to many of society’s problems — if we’re willing to give their ideas a try.