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Science Day to draw more than 700 students

When Dixie Smith taught high school science, her students had many questions about not just what it's like to attend a university, but what specific degree programs are all about.

"They wanted to know what careers were available, and what degrees they should seek if they wanted those careers," she said. 

For 40 years, Pittsburg State has been offering an event for high school students to answer those questions: Science Day. 

This year's event, to be held Thursday in several buildings on campus, is drawing more than 700 students from 28 schools — from Carthage, Webb City, Joplin, and Carl Junction High School in Southwest Missouri, to Southeast and St. Paul High School in Southeast Kansas. 

"A day like this really helps them focus their thoughts," said Smith, who now serves as chair of the Biology Department. 

Science Day is a collaborative effort by the Biology Department, the Physics Department, and the Chemistry Department, each of which stages their own competitions for individual students and teams. 

"We have Biology Bowl, Chemistry Capers, and Physics Frolics," said Peter Chung, professor of microbiology. Chung also serves as advisor of the Biology Club, which organizes the event and oversees everything from registration to ensuring medals get to the correct winners.  

He said participants will do everything from race mousetrap cars, to quiz bowls, written exams, and wildlife identification, to tours of the cadaver lab. 

"It's also a chance for them to get the feel for what school is like and talk to us as students to see what our lives are like," said Abbi Morgan, who serves as secretary of Biology Club. 

The club's president, Kate Main, who came from Cherryvale, Kansas, said her science classes in high school were very generalized, and she would have appreciated being able to attend an event like Science Day to see what career paths exist. 

"It's also a great recruitment event, a way to bring high school students to our campus to show them what's possible," Smith said. "Many times, the teachers involved are former students, and they have fun bringing their students to campus and letting them become familiar with a four-year institution and what opportunities they have." 

Science Day will kick off with a welcome speech by Pittsburg State President Steve Scott at 8:40 in the Crimson and Gold Ballroom of the Overman Student Center. Activities will conclude at 2 p.m.

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