An estimated 7,500 Murfreesboro City Schools children will descend upon MTSU’s Murphy Center Tuesday morning for a field trip.
They know they will be coming for the Lady Raiders’ 11 a.m. nonconference basketball game against in-state rival Austin Peay. The children just don’t know how much fun they are going to have at the game, which will have a near-capacity crowd.
In addition to all the elements surrounding the game — MTSU Band of Blue pep band, cheerleaders, food and more — they can count it as a learning experience.
An education component will be part of the mix of activities.
The children, in grades K-6, will witness “Balloon Kabob,” “Alka-Seltzer Bottle Rockets,” mathematics and letter writing while in 11,000-plus seat Murphy Center along with about 3,000 Lady Raiders’ regular fans and Austin Peay supporters.
“This will be a great educational piece,” said Josh Calbaugh, director of marketing in MT athletics. “There will be science experiments, math problems and letter writing.
“For a lot of these kids, it might be the first time on a college campus. We want to show them that ‘we want you to strive to get to college.’”
Chemistry professor Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross will present STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) in a 10-minute pregame presentation. Assisted by several students, Iriate-Gross will demonstrate how a wooden stick can penetrate a balloon without the balloon bursting and the science behind Alka-Seltzer-launched bottle rockets.
“This is a great opportunity to showcase STEM,” Iriarte-Gross said. “We came up with ideas of how we can make it beneficial and educational, and get children on campus to show them this is fun stuff to see.”
Iriarte-Gross added that Kellum Everett, a senior anthropology major who serves as president of the Women in Science and Engineering student organization this year, is expected to join her in the presentation.
The math and letter-writing aspects of the educational experience will be led by Murfreesboro City Schools personnel, Calbaugh said, adding that it was “a joint effort by both MTSU and city schools to make this trip as educational as possible.” MTSU and Murfreesboro City Schools have been planning this field trip since September, he added.
At MTSU, Iriarte-Gross heads the Expanding Your Horizons in Math and Science (an annual fall event for girls in grades 5-12) efforts and serves as director of the Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Center.