Reactions: A Fair Experiment

2013-09-01 15.30.25
Dr. Howard Mettee at the YSU tent at the fair.

Each year, the Canfield Fair brings thousands of people from around the United States to enjoy good food, enormous pumpkins, and top-name entertainment. Many do not realize the amount of time and effort that goes into the various other tents and events that make the fair what it is today.

For many years, YSU and the STEM College have had their tent in the same place, right next to the grandstand. While many miss out by walking right by, the ones who stop are treated with an experience that makes the fair memorable. The students and faculty running the tent aren’t there to pass out business cards and YSU lanyards; they are there because they want to be there.

Dr. Howard Mettee has been volunteering at the fair for over thirty years and loves to show the fair goers what Chemistry can do. Each year, his Thermite Reaction brings kids huddled around a small planter, waiting to see what will happen next. Not only do the children get to see the spark of a chemical reaction, but they may also see a spark of interest in themselves.

Volunteering at the fair is important to Dr. Mettee for many reasons, but one of the main reasons for his service is to make children curious about science.

“[I]t seems to me it goes beyond chemistry, but more an interest or curiosity in in how things work in science,” Dr. Mettee said. “Yes, the molecules reflect the chemical composition and its changes in reactions, but the interplay of reactions with energy helps answer the question of why they happen in the first place, and how fast.”

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Another professor who volunteered this year was Dr. Clovis Linkous. Dr. Linkous, who is a professor of Materials Sciences, helped with a display and manned the STEM tables.

“I volunteer at the Fair because I see it as a valuable opportunity to help YSU maintain a positive presence in the Greater Mahoning Valley community,” Dr. Linkous says.  “It’s a long day, but you never know when someone may stop by the tent who is borderline attending college, or borderline attending YSU instead of someplace else.”

Professors and faculty are not the only people that volunteer for the YSU tent. The Biology Club sets up at the fair each year to interest the passersby in biology. Volunteering is one of the most important things for the Biology Club.

“The reason we volunteer, to put it simply, is to give back,” Max Gocala, president of the Biology Club says. “Not only do we as people benefit from giving back, but as students it teaches us things we can only learn outside a classroom.”

The Canfield Fair is an important, but fun and interesting, opportunity for the community to see what the STEM College is all about. It is even more important for the students and faculty. Max says it best, “At the Canfield Fair we are afforded the opportunity to connect with our local community. This community connection forms the basis for other events that we hold throughout the year.”