Hands-on Labs, Inc. (HOL) celebrated National Lab Day on May 11th at East High School with Amy Hanson’s Advanced Placement Chemistry Class. The official third anniversary for National Lab Day is May 12, 2012. The National Lab Network started National Lab Day to encourage volunteer scientists, university students, engineers, STEM professionals, and members of the community to collaborate with K-12 educators and bring discovery-based science experiences to local students.
As a small business and strong supporter of students experiencing science through hands-on discovery, HOL felt the need to honor this day with Denver’s historic East High School. HOL’s Student Service Representative, Phyllis Carpenter, initiated this effort and reached out to Amy Hanson to create this great experience for her students. When interviewed, Mrs. Carpenter explained “As a former teacher, I know that hands-on experimentation engages students in the learning process and ignites their interest in the world. As a company, we celebrate National Lab Day every year. With the number of young science students at East High, I think celebrating this event with East High students is a great way to inspire the next generation to pursue careers in science.”
As a bonus, alumnus and Mayor Michael B. Hancock’s appointed Director of the Division of Small Business Opportunity, Chris Martinez, joined this event. “Small business is the backbone of our economy,” says Martinez. “Hands-on Labs is reaching out to high school chemistry students who are the future scientists of our workforce.”
HOL’s chief scientists, Drs. Emily Barter and Eric Punkay, lead students through an HOL developed LabPaqTM experiment, “Determination of Water Hardness” using water from students’ homes. Students were able to test and observe the hardness of Colorado water, linking science principles with their own lives.
Engaging students at a young age is important to both Drs. Barter and Punkay. “Science can seem intimidating to young students” says Dr. Barter, “Providing students with a great, hands-on science experience show them they can succeed in science and also enjoy the learning process. I think it is important to provide students with positive role models who can encourage them to become the next generation of scientists and educators.” Dr. Punkay adds, “Kids are born scientists. They start off life observing the world and testing how things work. National Lab Day is an opportunity for scientists to engage with and inspire young people to continue observing and testing, and to help remove the barriers to scientific literacy. Hands-On Labs is dedicated to improving access to meaningful laboratory experiences for all students and participating in National Lab Day is a natural way for us to give back to the community while advancing science literacy.”