National STEM Day, celebrated on November 8th this year, offers an opportunity for schools to focus on helping students advance in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. At Morton College, STEM classes and Science Club are rising in popularity as students realize their importance in real-world applications.
"Our Science Club focuses on Mole Day in October (part of the American Chemical Society's National Chemistry Week) and on Pi Day in March," said Sarah Helmus, Ph.D, Faculty Chemistry Instructor for Morton College. "We'll be celebrating STEM Day a little early on November 6th, when we will meet to give molecular gastronomy a try with the spherification of beverages."
On the first day of class, Dr. Helmus asks her students to indicate their major or primary subject of interest. "We always have a strong interest in Nursing, due to the strength of Morton's program, but I've noticed a recent uptick in the number of students coming in to pursue Chemistry (especially Biochemistry), Engineering, Pre-Med, or Pre-Pharmacy, and Biology as well," she added. "We've had strong enrollment in the Chemistry Department the past few years, and our students have been successful after they transfer to a four-year university." Two former Morton College students are currently in their second year of Pharmacy School at UIC, and many are finishing their Bachelor's degrees at universities throughout Illinois. "We currently have former students applying for Medical School, Dental School, and Pharmacy School," added Helmus. "I'm excited to see STEM continue to grow."
Morton College STEM students also have the opportunity to participate in the Skyway STEM Competition in April of each year. "The competition is voluntary, but those who participate design and conduct their own experiment, make a poster with their results, and then present the posters to judges from Argonne National Lab," said Helmus. "It's a great way to gain valuable experience in the STEM fields."
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