The Bentil Group

March 30, 2019: 3rd Annual STEM Fest

written by Anna Buchholz (education and outreach coordinator for The Bentil Group)

Anna Buchholz, Megan Beck, Annastacia McCarty, Lucas McPherren, and Jenny Marsh hosted The Bentil Group’s outreach table for over 2000 guests at the 3rd Annual STEM Fest. STEM Fest is a one-day event held on the Iowa State University campus to provide elementary aged students a chance to learn about Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), through hands-on activities provided by campus departments, student organizations, and companies.

The Bentil Group members at the 3rd Annual STEM Fest. Members from left to right are: Lucas McPherren, Anna Buchholz, Annastacia McCarty, Megan Beck, and Jenny Marsh.

STEM Fest is a collaboration between Ames Laboratory, Program for Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE), North Central Iowa STEM Hub, Chemical Engineering (in kind), and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (in kind).

Flyer from the 3rd Annual STEM Fest.

During STEM Fest, participants and their families were able to ask questions about The Bentil Group’s research. Participants were shown a video displaying the oxy-acetylene shock tube in action, leading to increased curiosity about how the shock tube functions and how it is beneficial to The Bentil Group’s research.

Lucas McPherren and Anna Buchholz standing next to the laptop used to play the oxy-acetylene driven shock tube video.

Brain models were laid out for participants to better understand the brain’s shape, size, and function.

Anna Buchholz holding a brain model, as she explains the brain’s function to an elementary aged student participant.

The crowd favorite, at The Bentil Group’s outreach table, were the pipe cleaner neurons made by the participants. A step-by-step instruction of how to make neurons was presented to the participants, as well as an explanation of the various parts of neurons and its associated function.  Participants really engaged in this hands-on activity, especially when they were able to make “fast” neurons by adding myelin to their axons. The participants were also able to take home a word search featuring the different parts of the brain and words from the discussion on shock tubes and shock waves. An eraser, in the shape of a brain, was also given to the participants. The brain eraser served as a reminder of their time spent at The Bentil Group’s table learning about shock tubes and the brain.

Jenny Marsh (right) providing instructions on how to make neurons out of the pipe cleaners.