Science Speakers

United Way of Lake County’s Science Speaker initiative brings scientists from local companies to speak with Waukegan students about the field of science and present unique, engaging and interactive learning experiences.

On one visit, three volunteer speakers from USG came to Clearview Elementary School to speak to fifth grade classrooms. One classroom took part in making different types of joint compound using dirt and polymer materials. Another classroom mixed wallboard samples and learned how walls in buildings are made. And another classroom created molds using a stone casting agent called gypsum.

Science Speakers share their backgrounds, connect the school’s curriculum to the application of science in the real world and educate students about the wide range of science related careers open to their future.As students learn how science is connected to their education, daily life and the potential for their future, their curiosity and interest grow. The speakers are flooded by questions from students:

  • “How did you find out about this job?”
  • “What is the difference between liquid glue and a glue stick?”
  • “How do you come up with new ideas?”
  • “How come when drywall breaks, it turns to dust?”
  • “Why does the mold feel hot as it turns into a solid?“

One final question of the day came from a teacher: “What did you need to do well in during elementary school that helped you on your path to success today?”

Science Speaker, David Pelot, PhD, Senior Researcher, USG Corporate Innovation Center shared his experience: “Writing is so important. Learn how to write well and concisely so that you can communicate your ideas to others. I can’t rent out Soldier Field to tell everyone my ideas and share what I’ve learned. But when engineers and scientists write down their ideas and findings, they can share it with hundreds of thousands of people allowing everyone to learn from each other.

I also use math every day in my job. Today, your class is learning about how to figure out the volume of 3D shapes. I use that in my work all the time.

And also, be curious about the world. Ask questions and go out and investigate answers. In my field, I get to say ‘I don’t know’ a lot when asked scientific questions...but then I always follow that up with ‘I’m going to go and find out!’”

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