Author: Shawn Gillis
Date: November 20, 2012
Date: November 20, 2012
Categories: Academics|Biology|Chemistry|Community|Physics

On November 3, student members of Houghton College’s Sigma Zeta, a national honor society for science and math students, welcomed area high school students onto campus to participate in a free educational lab experience.  The participants either attend small Christian schools or are educated at home and often lack the necessary equipment and resources for performing science experiments.   Zeta provides the opportunity to reach out to the community and create fun, but challenging, learning experiences in the fully equipped labs at Houghton College. 

Faculty advisor for Sigma Zeta, Karen Torraca, says: “Our hope is to encourage high school students in the sciences by gaining valuable hands-on experiences with lab equipment and lab safety as well as being able to catch the excitement from those already majoring in the sciences.” 

The members of Houghton’s Sigma Zeta collaborate to plan the lab activities, which in the past have ranged from physics, to biology, to chemistry.  In the most recent meeting, students learned about the energy content of food by doing calorimetry studies on snack foods such as Cheetos and marshmallows.  They also learned about blood typing.

“It offers high school students the unique opportunity to participate in a laboratory setting, and it offers college students opportunity to share their enthusiasm for science,” said Maya McElfish, a member of Sigma Zeta.  “For some of the high school students, it is one of the few chances they've had to participate in laboratory activities. Overall, it is a great way to connect two groups of science students to each other in a setting that emphasizes fun.”

The opportunity is open to local students in small Christian schools and home- school groups to visit Houghton’s campus and spend three to four hours completing lab experiences alongside upper- level students majoring in the sciences.  Sigma Zeta holds these opportunities on one Saturday per semester. 

For more information, contact Shannon Hritz, president of Sigma Zeta, at: