Students from Sherwood Middle School learn about alternative energy through hands-on activities during the Breakfast of Science Champions on Wednesday Nov. 6 Credit: Lily Maslia | Outreach and Engagement Editor

Columbus middle schoolers ate, learned and played like scientists at the Breakfast of Science Champions event Wednesday.

About 500 middle schoolers from Columbus City Schools gathered on Ohio State’s campus for STEM learning at various departments’ host sites, Hannah Shafaat, an associate professor in chemistry and biochemistry, said.

“It’s a really fun opportunity to get to show off your science or show off your expertise in a certain scientific expertise to middle schoolers,” Shafaat said. “It’s really great for outreach because being able to communicate with scientists on all different levels and students on all different levels is, I think, really important for everyone.”

The event featured nine hosts from different departments that put on various hands-on activities for the students led by graduate students and professors. Throughout the day, students rotated between departments and activities.

One of the activities from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry — led by Shafaat and graduate assistants — had the students use potatoes and lemons as alternative energy sources and make slime.

“Our research is focused on alternative energy, so we have the batteries as a demonstration of … how you can come across alternative energy sources in nature,” Shafaat said.

The event, facilitated through the Office of Outreach and Engagement, is an annual STEM engagement event that includes nine middle schools in Columbus City Schools, according to the event’s press release.

“I think it’s a great opportunity for the students to get hands-on experience with science,” Amanda Locke, a social worker for Sherwood Middle School and chaperone for the event, said. “I think it will teach them problem-solving skills and see how science works in daily life.”

Shafaat said she has enjoyed watching the event grow every year and exposing students to science.

“The whole point is to get them to campus because a lot of them haven’t been to campus before even though they’ve grown up in Columbus,” she said.

Shafaat said the event was sweet from beginning to end, topping off the day with liquid nitrogen ice cream.

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