Service Learning & Outreach

Service Learning

I've been involved in three classes that included major service learning components: my 2014 instrumental analysis class at Trinity College, my 2011 instrumental analysis class at A&T and the 2007 service learning course at Indiana University.

Instrumental Analysis Project with Rankin Elementary School (2011)

Group Pic
Photo credit: Charles Watkins
 Rankin Elementary students
For my second semester teaching at North Carolina A&T State University, I included a service learning partnership with local elementary school students as part of my laboratory course in Instrumental Analysis. I obtained a $500 grant from the ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry and $300 from the Communities in Schools program to support this project, in which my students partnered with 4 classes of fifth graders from Rankin Elementary school. We visited the students' classrooms to educate them about detecting pesticides in waterways, hosted >100 fifth graders on a campus visit to perform a simulated ELISA experiment, and returned to Rankin for a final follow-up visit and quiz bowl. More information about this project can be found on the project blog.

Service Learning in Chemistry Class at IU-Bloomington (2007)

G201 students at IUB
In graduate school, I was the assistant instructor for the 2007 Service Learning in Chemistry class at Indiana University-Bloomington. I worked with a group of five students partnered with the local Boys' and Girls' Club. We did weekly chemistry activities with K-12 students in the after-school program. 

Public Outreach

I've also participated in many outreach activities to help educate the public and K-12 students learn about micro- and nanotechnology.

Chemistry Day at the Museum of Natural Sciences (2012)

Microraft Game


James and Jazz with a demo chip
Photo credit: Nick Dobes

Along with two other postdocs and four graduate students in analytical chemistry at UNC, I helped reprise both our microraft demo on the cell sorting technology developed in the Allbritton laboratory and the Jell-O microfluidics. We estimate that we had a couple hundred visitors as we gave away 196 take-home kits for Jell-O chips. More details about both demos are in the posts below from earlier events.

Nature Research Center Opening (2012)

I also coordinated a booth at the opening of the new wing of the Museum of Natural Sciences, the Nature Research Center, in Raleigh, NC in April 2012. According to news reports, this 24-h event attracted almost 70,000 people to the new museum wing and surrounding booths. During our 4 pm - 11 pm shift, my labmates and I  spoke with hundreds of people about the Allbritton lab's research.

UNC Science Expo: 2012

Photo credit: Robert Felder, MD

In 2012, I organized a booth about the microraft technology developed in the Allbritton lab. My labmates and I constructed two "macro" sized examples of this micro-sized technology for sorting cells. Visitors to our booth raced to sort (pictures of) cells on these devices using criteria like GFP expression or active cell division.

UNC Science Expo: 2010

Photo credit: WRAL, Raleigh
I coordinated a booth on the Allbritton lab's research at the first two UNC Science Expos in 2010 and 2012. In 2010, our booth demonstrated microfluidics using Jell-O microchips based on a publication  by the Lagally lab at UBC (Anal. Chem. 2010, 82, 5408). We also passed out over 200 take-home kits to children and K-12 teachers to let kids design their own microfluidics at home.

Nanotechnology Project with Columbus Signature Academy (2009)

SEM image of Au NPs
After defending my graduate work at Indiana University-Bloomington, I spent two months working with IU's Nanoscience Center on a project with the New Tech high school Columbus Signature Academy. I helped design a problem-based learning module in which the CSA students investigated the effect of capping agent concentration on gold nanoparticle diameter. After synthesizing the particles in their school lab, the students brought their nanoparticle samples to IU for analysis by AFM and SEM.

Nanoday at the Louisville Science Center (2009)
Photo credit: IU Center for Nanoscience
To help celebrate Nanoday at the Louisville Science Center, I coordinated a booth on microcontact printing, a technique that used a flexible stamp to apply a thin layer of material to a surface in a specific pattern. We helped museum visitors plate silver mirrors, stamp them with a self-assembled thiol monolayer in the pattern of their choice, and then selectively etch away the unprotected silver where the monolayer was not applied. Visitors also got to try on a cleanroom suit and learn about nanotechnology research and IU-Bloomington.