Contemporary research techniques and theory. Group discussion and college-level laboratory experience. Relevant, cutting-edge topics. High school students throughout the region enjoy doing hands-on science at the University of Saint Francis Science Symposium. It’s a day that will make a huge difference in sharpening your skills, not to mention introducing you to students at the university level – and you are invited to participate!

Spaces are limited to only 24 students per topic.

When: November 4, 2017

This Fall’s symposium, which is being held on November 4, 2017, will enroll a limited number of highly qualified high school sophomore, junior and senior students. Participation is limited so you can work in small groups with our university faculty.

Contact the symposium director by calling 260.399.7700, ext 8208, or emailing mbechill@sf.edu, with any questions.

Symposium Topics

Biology – The Bitter Truth – The genetic basis of taste: identifying a single-nucleotide polymorphism

Director: Dr. Greg Wemhoff

Let me open this short discussion with a question for you.  If two parents, both with brown eyes, have a child, do you expect the child to have brown eyes or blue eyes and why?  My guess is you answered brown, because brown is dominant.  There, you’ve just completed a genetic analysis following pedigree and accounted for dominant and recessive gene expression.  As little as thirty years ago our investigations regarding inheritance as well as dominant and recessive gene expression was limited to looking at the physical features of offspring – assessing their phenotype.  Today we can still examine outward features as well as examining the molecular composition of genes.  In our lab experience, we will do just that:  take advantage of the power of molecular investigations to examine dominant and recessive genes.  In the 1930’s a scientist at DuPont, Arthur Fox, made the observation that some people can taste a very bitter substance known as phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) while others cannot.  Later, investigations by Albert Blakeslee demonstrated that the inability to taste PTC was a recessive trait.  Dr. Blakeslee was limited to recording phenotypes.  He did not have the molecular tools we have today.  We will repeat his experiment, and we are going conduct our own investigation.  By sampling our own DNA (we will use cheek cells) we are going to determine at a molecular level whether we are tasters or nontasters of PTC and whether this supports the phenotypic trait we will identify for ourselves.  The laboratory investigation will run the entire day and it will require us to move efficiently to finish within the time we will have together.  Therefore, we will be busy.  We will learn several techniques.  And, I expect it to be fun.  We have a mystery to solve regarding what gene each of us carries.  Come ready to run – the game is afoot.

Environmental Science – Aquatic Ecology of Mirror Lake

Director: Lou Weber

What animals are active in Mirror Lake during the late fall?  What trophic level cascades may be present beneath the water surface?  We’ll pull plankton nets, analyze Bluegill diet, check water quality, and take other measurements of our dear Mirror Lake on center campus.

Chemistry – Crime Scene Investigation

Director: Andrea Geyer

Become a forensic scientist as you evaluate evidence collected at the scene of a mock crime. Analyze samples using forensic research instrumentation such as the gas chromatograph mass spectrometer, infrared spectrometer, flame atomic absorption spectrometer, and the scanning electron microscope. Who’s guilty? Join us in the laboratory to find out.

Computer Science – Computer Techies: Let the Games Begin!

Director: Rick Miller

Break out your techie skills as you engage in online hacker puzzles designed to push you to the limit.  During this interactive hands-on workshop, you will explore programming, Linux commands and security concepts.  Do you have what it takes to find the clues and apply your computer knowledge to advance to the next level?  Come see what awaits you in the fascinating world of Computer Science!

Math – Playing the Game

Director: Victor Kutsenok

The key to any game is knowing the code. Learn how prime numbers are the key to the art of writing or solving codes, and how the RSA algorithm secures communications in today’s banks and credit companies through cryptography. With a tool box of number theory and the RSA algorithm you will create and decode secret messages. You will explore the patterns and connections of mathematics that weave through puzzles and games as you solve mathematical challenges.