Graduate School outreach program entertains and teaches children

Sunday, April 25, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
Brandy Huff, an MU biology undergraduate, helps her daughters Maryssa, 8, and Hannah, 5, make a construction paper caterpillar at a booth during Saturday's "Adventures in Education."

COLUMBIA — Graduate students from a number of MU departments including chemistry, German and plant sciences taught local children about their work in Saturday's "Adventures In Education," held in Jesse Hall.

"Adventures in Education" is a graduate student-driven event, said Emily VanCourt, social studies doctoral student who is also national issues coordinator for the MU Graduate Professional Council, which co-sponsors the program with the MU Graduate Student Association.


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A booth staffed by Kalyani Upendram, master's student in electrical engineering, had a robotics demonstration.

"I'm showing that robot senses are like our own human senses," Upendram said. She said the event was a good place to tell students about robotics camps held by her department in the summer, where first- through ninth-grade students can build robots and learn to program them.

Mark and Jackie Roland visited the plant sciences department booth "From Seeds to Supper" with their children, Zack, 8, Isabella, 6, and Tanner, 4. The booth, which taught students about plants used to make familiar supermarket foods such as breakfast cereals and cooking oils, won first prize among the booths at the event.

The Rolands learned about the event though fliers sent home from Fairview Elementary school, Mark Roland said. He said their children enjoy the outreach events hosted by various departments and colleges at MU.

"We try to attend a lot of them," he said. They attended one at the veterinary school earlier this month, he said.

Kristofferson Culmer, who is next year's Graduate Professional Council president-elect and a master's student in computer science, hosted a booth named "Let's Talk Computer."

Culmer spelled out "kris" in binary code for Columbia Catholic School students Eleanor Fay and Annalisa Geger, both 9. He taught about the binary language used by computers to represent information that people put into them.

"Travels of My T-Shirt," hosted by graduate students from the textile and apparel management department, gave a lesson in globalism by demonstrating the round-the-world trip taken by U.S.-grown cotton, most of which is sent to Africa or Asia to be made into clothing.

Booth visitors checked the tags on their clothing to find the country of manufacture. Then they were given a sticker to place on a graph showing where their clothing was made. The stickers were placed mostly on Asia, Africa and Central America.

Amanda Muhammad, doctoral student, said the goal of the booth was to get students to think about the cost of labor involved in making their clothes. The booth won third place among the booths at the event.

The chemistry department took second place for "Chemistry Is Cool," where students got to see a "traffic-light liquid" which changed from yellow to red and finally to green when shaken.

Several hundred attendees visited booths representing almost 20 disciplines from the MU graduate school during the event.

Doug Davis, an education reporter for the Missourian attended the event with his 8-year daugheter Samantha. To read his account as a father go to

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