Elementary STEM Club: Lottery Application NOW OPEN for 2023-24

OSU Extension Pickaway County and Teays Valley School District have partnered to bring an after-school elementary-wide STEM Club. The club meetings are held approximately one to two times per month from 3:30-5:00 p.m. The educators rotate through the four elementary buildings each month. Application deadline: Friday, September 8, 2022! Click here to fill out the application with your child, CLICK HERE.

Participation will be limited to 25 students per building, and open to 4th and 5th graders. Acceptance in the after-school program will be an application-based lottery. There will be a $30 fee for the year, only pay after you receive email acceptance into the program. (Financial hardship waivers are available.)

Visit our STEM Club blog https://u.osu.edu/tvstemclub/. This website will have club highlights, activity summaries, and access to the STEM Club calendar for your student’s STEM Club meetings.

The goal of the program is to promote and spark STEM interests in each of the elementary schools. This program is considered an extension of the school day. Participants will be engaged in hands-on STEM activities and learn about careers in STEM. A hand full of high school student-mentors join our club meetings to assist with club activities and gain hard and soft skills.

Students who may enjoy STEM clubs are those who enjoy being challenged and who are interested in:

  • the fields of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math)
  • the process of learning, asking questions and problem-solving
  • helping people and making a difference in the world

If your child is interested in participating in the lottery visit the STEM Club Blog site for information and complete the application. THE LAST THREE QUESTIONS are to be answered by the interested elementary student.

Applications must be submitted online by the end of the school day, Friday, September 8th. NO LATE APPLICATIONS BECAUSE IT IS A LOTTERY! Notification of acceptance/non-acceptance will be sent by email. This is how we primarily communicate with parents throughout the year as well as posting to STEM Club Blog, u.osu.edu/tvstemclub/.

Tentative Club Dates per Building:

ASHVILLE: 9/19, 10/3, 10/31, 11/2, 12/5, 1/9, 1/11, 2/6, 2/8, 3/5, 3/7, 4/9, 4/30

S. BLOOMFIELD: 9/21, 10/5, 11/7, 11/9, 12/7, 1/16, 1/18, 2/13, 2/15, 3/12, 3/14, 4/11, 5/2

SCIOTO: 9/26, 10/10, 11/14, 11/16, 12/12, 1/23, 1/25, 2/20, 2/22, 3/19, 3/21, 4/16, 5/7

WALNUT: 9/28, 10/12, 11/28, 11/30, 12/14, 1/30, 2/1, 2/27, 2/29, 3/26, 3/28, 4/18, 5/9

(STEM Club meeting dates are subject to change. In the event of school cancellation, the club will be canceled, NOT rescheduled.)

Photon Flower Lab: Part of an Atoms, Periodic Table Bingo, and Battery Build Challenges

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

Watch our club highlight video to get the best visual overview of this month’s challenges.

This March our young STEMist broke down the parts of an atom, learned about chemical elements and compounds, and how we organize elements on the period table. They also built and took home a homemade battery powered by electrolytes (lemon juice) that carried an electric charge to turn on an LED light. This expanded on what the students learned in the previous club during their hands-on chemical changes lab. During that lab, students experimented with chemical changes and molecular compounds and turned a liquid from an acid to a base and vice versa. Electrolytes are compounds that the students used to conduct electricity and power up their photon flower and turned on a LED light.

Our club focused on the basic building block of matter, an atom. Atoms combine to form pure elements, compounds, and complex forms like computers and phones. Atoms are the smallest particle of matter that cannot be further subdivided using chemical means. In order to understand how atoms interact with each other, the students put together the parts of a carbon atom.

Atoms consist of three basic particles: protons, electrons, and neutrons. The nucleus (center) of the atom contains the protons (positively charged) and the neutrons (no charge). The outermost regions of the atom are called electron shells and contain electrons (negatively charged).

We introduced different elements to the students, who discovered them, and what the element is used in. In order for students to claim their prize they had to read back the full element name and confirm how many protons each element had.

Understanding Chemical Reactions and Exploring Careers in Chemistry

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

Chemistry is a part of everyday life. This month we focused on improving our students’ understanding of the importance of chemical reactions in our lives in producing many of the things we take for granted. We also worked on improving their recognition and comprehension of what is involved in a chemical change through hands-on chemistry labs. Check out our two-minute program highlight video for a recap below:

Students learned the five signs of a chemical change firsthand:

  1. Color Change
  2. Production of an odor
  3. Change of Temperature
  4. Evolution of a gas (formation of bubbles)
  5. Precipitate (formation of a solid)

Students learned that atoms are the smallest units of elements that still retain the element’s properties. And that, atoms contain electrons, neutrons, and protons. In addition, they learned that each element is defined by the number of protons in its nucleus. Students used a periodic table handout to find the different elements we used in our hands-on chemistry labs.

Then we expanded to explain how elements can combine and form molecules. In a chemical change, the molecules in the reactants interact to form new substances.

Atom Diagram Images – Browse 13,302 Stock Photos, Vectors, and Video | Adobe Stock

Another important aspect of the program was exploring the many careers in chemistry. Take a moment and click through the Careers in Chemistry Prezi presentation with your child or use it in your classroom. The data used comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) is a valuable online resource to explore and is also available through the CareerInfo app. Both Web and the App, include 300+ occupational profiles that cover about 4 out of 5 jobs in the economy. You can browse job profiles by occupational group or top lists—or find a specific job type with a simple search and learn information that will impact education and career planning decisions such as median pay, entry-level education, on-the-job training, number of new jobs projected, growth rate, and career highlight videos, on the hundreds of occupations that provide most jobs in the United States. Click on a QR code to download the CareerInfo app to your mobile devices now!



Launch into the New Year with Catapult and Creative Writing Challenges

By: Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator

This January Teays Valley elementary students learned about catapults and the engineering design process which involves problem-solving and building solutions through teamwork, designing, prototyping, testing, rebuilding, and continuing to improve and reevaluate their design solutions.


Students learned the basic catapult design concepts and components. They learned about force, accuracy, precision, and angles – and made engineering connections – engineers apply science, writing, and math concepts early into the design process and prototyping before they’re ready to build final products to meet their clients’ needs.


They also learned how force affects the motion of a projectile, the difference between accuracy and precision, as well as learned the optimum angle for launching a projectile at the farthest distance, being at 45 degrees.

Catapults may be an old technology, but engineers still apply many design concepts to modern applications that need to store potential energy to propel a payload. Examples such as clay pigeon shooting or more complex aircraft catapult take-off for short runways.

Our catapult project was a two-part challenge: 1) apply the engineering design process to build a catapult, and 2) use the catapults in a creative writing challenge. The students worked in groups moving through target stations.

They used their catapults to hit a dynamic target that gave them points, letters, words, and images. The students had to add up their points, look up new vocabulary with the acquired letters, add the words and phrases collected, and finally handwrite a group creative writing narrative that they read out loud to their peers.

Skills Applied:

  • Engineering concepts
  • Geometry/Angles
  • Visual Motor
  • Bimanual
  • Math/Addition
  • Alphabetization
  • Handwriting
  • Creative Thinking/Storytelling
  • Team Communication
  • Oral Presentation

*Pictures from Teays Valley Elementary Students registered for the 2023 STEM Club Program.

LED Display Build

Last month our students learned about Electrics and LED Display Circuit Systems from guest educators, Professor Betty Lise Anderson and Lecture Clayton Greenbaum, from the OSU Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Dr. Anderson has been engaging youth in electrics for years through her community outreach STEM programming. OSU Extension is always thrilled to welcome her team over the years to bring authentic hands-on learning to our youth and an opportunity to talk directly to an OSU professor and female engineer, along with her college student mentors that often assist. It’s a great experience for students to explore careers in electrical engineering. Check out our program highlight video to get a better idea of what was shared.

Students started by learning about how to read electrical schematics which are drawings and symbols that indicate the electrical connections of a circuit.

Students also learned a few of the components they used in their LED Display Build below:

Students then applied their knowledge firsthand as they build and connected their LED Displays to a breadboard using a schematic drawing, wires, resistors, diodes, and batteries. They gained a better understanding of the parts that go into LED Displays, by understanding the parts, circuit diagram, and pin connections.

For more resources on LED Display build, instructions, presentation, and complete parts list click here.


October’s Halloween STEM Challenges, Part 2: Electrons, Batteries, LEDs, and Simple Circuits



Student notes were taken to remember what they learned about simple circuits and their paper circuit project.

Simple Circuits with Meghan Thoreau, OSU Extension Educator, and Judy Walley, Teays Valley Chemistry Teacher. Full presentation link: go.osu.edu/simplecircuits 

Why Understanding Simple Circuits is Important?

Basic circuit knowledge is important for many different disciplines, including engineering, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. It’s also useful knowledge around this time of year when you may need to repair a string of old holiday lights? Understanding and building simple circuits show us important concepts learned in school that can describe useful real-world systems, like devices we use every day, cell phones, light switches, Chromebooks, cars, etc.

The electric charge that flows through your house is called your electric circuit. This carries useful energy through your house that you can transform into other forms of energy to do various tasks. The US standard household circuit has an effective voltage that takes 120-volts. Volts represent the energy per unit charge. We discussed these basic building blocks of simple circuits in STEM Club this month. Our hands-on simple circuit design challenge uses 3-volt lithium batteries. Before jumping into our design challenges we’ll cover a few basic circuitry concepts and energy principles.

For program presentation, click here.

Conservation of Energy, First Law of Thermodynamics

The conservation of energy principle was discovered and published by Julius Robert von Mayer in 1842. Mayer was a German physicianchemist, and physicist and one of the founders of thermodynamics. However, there were many others working in the field that made significant contributions, such as, James Prescott JouleHermann von Helmholtz,  Alessandro Volta, and Benjamin Thomson.

The principle of conservation of energy is an effective tool in solving problems and understanding how different forms of energy directly impact our lives. There are also benefits to this principle. These include recycling of materials, lower energy costs for consumers, less pollution due to a reduction in the use of fossil fuels, and less harm to animals and the environment. We watched a short video, from Two Minute Classroom, that explained the basic concepts of how energy transforms itself into other forms and never truly disappears or is destroyed.

Below are 10 common types of energy:

Atoms and Electrons

Judy Walley led students through the basic concepts of atoms and electrons, because, without the flow of electrons, we have no electric circuit to work with.

Judy Walley explains the basic concepts of atoms and electrons as students formed a single circuit where electrons passed through them to power a sound buzzer.

Walley also explained the chemistry of a battery and how chemical reactions occur inside the battery that causes an imbalance or a build-up of electrons (-) on one side of the battery over the other, hence why one side or one terminal of the battery is negative (-) and the other positive (+). We also introduced the basic materials for our hands-on design challenges and explain how a battery works.

Screenshot from our virtual simple circuit presentation.

How a Battery Works

Batteries are important to everyday life. Batteries are essential to most electrical devices. They exist in our cars, cell phones, laptops, and other electronic appliances, and serve as critical backup sources of electricity in telecommunications, public transportation, and medical devices. A battery is essentially a container full of chemicals that produce electrons (-). Inside the battery itself, a chemical reaction produces the electrons.

The battery is a device that stores chemical energy and converts it to electrical energy. The chemical reactions in a battery involve the flow of electrons from one material (electrode) to another, through an external circuit. The flow of electrons provides an electric current that can be used to do work. In our case, students use copper tape to build a paper circuit to create light energy with an LED. Below depicts the inner wors of a battery.

Screenshot of how a battery works from our virtual simple circuit presentation.

The students learned that a battery has three main parts: an anode (-), cathode (+), and the electrolyte that separates the two terminal ends on the battery. We discussed the chemical reaction happening inside the battery that causes electrons (-) to build up on one side of the battery causing one end to be negatively charged (-) and the other end positively charged (+). This buildup causes an imbalance of electrons (-), that want to travel to the other side of the battery, but can’t move freely until a conductive circuit is completely looped for the electrons to travel through; in our case, the conduit is copper tape.

When a circuit is complete, or a loop created, the electrons will flow through the conductive paths racing to reach the other side of the battery terminal. When the electrons flow through the loop, the chemical energy inside the battery is transformed into electrical energy running through the circuit. When all electrons (-) make it to the other side, the battery stops working. All of the electric energy was transformed into other forms of energy.

Electrical energy allows us to do work by transforming energy into other forms. We use LEDs in our paper circuit design challenge because it’s a simple way to show how electric energy is transformed or converted into light energy. We could replace the LED with a simple motor and the motor would convert electrical energy into kinetic.

Screenshot of simple circuit components and electricity concepts from our virtual simple circuit presentation.

What’s a Diode?

Both LEDs and motors can easily be added to simple circuits. However, LEDs are somewhat more restrictive than motors, because LEDs are diodes. A diode only allows current to flow in one direction. From the cathode, (-) leg of the LED through the anode (+) leg. Note that the anode on a battery is negatively charged, but the anode on an LED is positively charged! The correct way to connect an LED legs to the battery terminals is positive to positive/anode to cathode and negative to negative/ cathode to anode. Study the image above if this is confusing. If the LED or battery is flipped in the wrong configuration then no current or electrons flow through the LED because the diode only allows for current to flow in one direction.

Image source: https://diotlabs.daraghbyrne.me/docs/controlling-outputs-motors/diodes/

A motor does not have a diode, therefore current can flow in either direction, and depending on how the motor is connected to the battery will decide what direction the motor turns left/right, or moves forwards/backward.

Image source: https://www.robotroom.com/DPDT-Bidirectional-Motor-Switch.html

Electric Circuit Design Challenges

As a virtual group, we challenged ourselves with a few NearPod activities to reinforce our electricity concepts before beginning our hands-on paper circuit challenges. A paper circuit is a functioning electronic circuit built on a paper surface instead of a printed circuit board (PCB). Projects can range from greeting cards to origami, to traditional art such as paintings or drawings. STEM totes went home with the students and included paper circuit design challenges and supplies.

Supply List (we purchased all our supplies through Amazon)

  • LED
  • Conductive copper tape
  • Plain card stock, or templates printed on card stock
  • 3-V coin cell battery
  • Tape (not included)
  • Binder Clip

Other useful items: multicolor/print card stock, glue stick, scissors, pencils, markers

Teays Valley High school mentor, Julia Kudar, assisting elementary students with our paper circuits program.

October’s Halloween STEM Challenges, Part 1: Science of Color, Vision, and Phosphorescent

We covered a lot of material last month. We thought we’d take advantage of the spooky mystery themes of Halloween and challenge our students to become science detectives, experimenting with hands-on activities involving chromatography, perception of vision, and phosphorescent slime chemistry. We also learned about atoms, electrons, batteries, LEDs, and simple circuits.

Two Minute Video Highlight of Program



The students became CSI lab technicians, tasked with solving a who-done-it pumpkin theft. All that was left at the scene of the crime was a letter demanding cookies! No fingerprints were found, but six suspects were brought in for questioning and all six had different black markers on their person. The marker evidence was tagged and brought to the CSI lab along with the random letter for further analysis. Marker samples were taken and a chromatography test was performed by our young lab technicians.

Chromatography is a laboratory technique for the separation of a mixture (more specifically separation of molecules) and in our case black marker ink molecules. The ink was dissolved in a water solution process of mobile to stationary phase, revealing distinct ink-finger prints for comparative analysis against an ink sample taken from the random note. The students discovered different ink molecules travel at different speeds, causing them to separate and reveal distinct color patterns that could help identify the pumpkin thief from the six suspects.

People don’t often pick up a marker or pen and think of molecules,  but ink and paints are made up of atoms and the molecules, like everything, follow rules. Ink and paints follow the standard CPK rule, which is a popular color convention for distinguishing atoms of different chemical elements in molecular modeling (named after the chemists Robert Corey, Linus Pauling, and Walter Koltun). Basically, certain elements are associated with different colors. For example,

  • Hydrogen = White
  • Oxygen = Red
  • Chlorine = Green
  • Nitrogen = Blue
  • Carbon = Grey
  • Sulphur = Yellow
  • Phosphorus = Orange
  • Other = Varies – mostly Dark Red/Pink/Maroon

Teays Valley High school mentor, Drew Dean, assists elementary students with our chromatography lab.


Persistence of vision refers to the optical illusion that occurs when visual perception of an object does not cease for some time after the rays of light proceeding from it have ceased to enter the eye. The discovery was first discussed in 1824 when an English-Swiss physicist named Peter Mark Roget presented a paper, “Explanation of an Optical Deception in the Appearance of the Spokes of a Wheel when seen through Vertical Apertures” to the Royal Society in London. Shortly after, in 1832, a Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau built a toy that took advantage of the optical illusion trick. (Photo below source: http://streamline.filmstruck.com/2012/01/07/the-persistence-of-persistence-of-vision/)

The toy made images move independently but overlapped them or when placed in a series made them look as if they were walking, running, juggling, dancing. This concept soon laid the foundation for early filmmaking. (Photo below source be: http://1125996089.rsc.cdn77.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/persistence-of-vision-transit.jpg)

The students learned how our eyes report basic imaginary back to the brain, or rather how our eyes perceive shapes, their motion, and their relative position from other objects. The students discovered that eyes are not simple windows to the world. Eyes do not see what is, but instead, see approximations.


The students learned how different objects glow in the dark. First, students learned that heat is a good emitter of light, such as a fire or an old-fashioned light bulb, but heat isn’t always required to make something appear to glow. For example, bedroom glow-in-the-dark stickers, glow sticks, or fireflies do not require heat. The stickers and even certain types of rocks, like the Bologna Stone, require several hours of light to charge them in order to later glow. But glow sticks and fireflies, do not require heat or light, but instead, deal with chemistry where two different elements are mixed together to make a ‘luminescent’ compound.

We talked about phosphorescence and the process in which energy absorbed by a substance is released slowly in the form of light. Unlike the relatively swift reactions in fluorescence, such as those seen in a common fluorescent tube, phosphorescent materials “store” absorbed energy for a longer time, as the processes required to re-emit energy occur less often.

Finally, we let the students become chemists and make their own phosphorescent slime for later glow in the dark fun after the compound was charged by light. The young chemists used measuring devices to concoct their spooky slime recipe.

Make another batch at home with your young chemist:

  1. Add 20.0 mL of glue to cup
  2. Add 15.0 mL of water to cup
  3. STIR!
  4. Drop of preferred food coloring
  5. STIR!
  6. Add a drop of glow in the dark phosphorescence paint
  7. Add 12.0 mL of BORAX solution
  8. STIR! It will be runny until you take it out of the cup and start to play with it.


STEM Professionals Panel: learn, engage, and explore four STEM career pathways

Get ready STEM Club, because we have four guest professionals coming to join us for some lively discussion on their STEM careers, life experiences, and tips when considering working towards a STEM Career. Save the date: Thursday, 21 May 2020 @ 4:00 P.M. (Zoom meeting details are found in our Elementary STEM Club’s Google Classroom.) Click here to watch the recorded club meeting. Our panel includes the following:

WILLIAM MILLER-LITTLE is a M.D. Ph.D. Medical Candidate & Researcher at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Department of Pathology/Immunology actively works in a research laboratory.

MELISSA SMITH is a Phlebotomist & Clinical Lab Supervisor Technician at OSU Medical Center, Outpatient Care East Lab in Columbus, OH (and STEM Club mom.) 

KARINA HANKENFOF is a Product Engineer & Lab Technician, specialized in materials and mechanical systems with Cincinnati Testing Labs in Cincinnati, OH (and Teays Valley alumni.)

CLAY BURGETT is a Chemist & Information Technology Manager at the American Chemical Society for the Chemical Abstracts Service (CAS), a division of the American Chemical Society in Columbus, Ohio.

COSI Science Festival’s Meet A Scientist Library Youth Program

STEM Club students, please take advantage of this free virtual library youth program made possible through a community collaboration between COSI, DuPont (Circleville), Pickaway County Library, and OSU Extension. Pre-register now!

COSI Science Festival’s Meet A Scientist Youth Program, Saturday, May 9, 2020, 11:00 AM – Peggy Scott, a Dupont polymer scientist, and Christy Yu, a Dupont quality engineer, share their personal experiences and passion for STEM careers to youth and their families. Learn about polymer chemistry, science careers, and engage in a virtual polymer-scavenger hunt from the comfort of your home. Pre-registration is required for this free educational event, go to, go.osu.edu/polymeryouthprogram. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information and passcode to join the meeting. We’ll also send a reminder email prior to the event. #COSISciFest

For more information please email, thoreau.1@osu.edu. Here is the recording of the Polymer Scientist program! 

Bowling Green State University Scholar Shares Her Research Experience

By: Allison Cheek of Bowling Green State University, Candidate of Math and Science Education

Research Experience

This past fall, I was an incoming college freshman and I was told I would be participating in a research group. As a scholar of Bowling Green State University’s Science and Math in ACTION Program, I was allowed to participate in a research group. Research is part of our first-year requirements in the program. I thought that was very intimidating, having to conduct research with a team, as well as moving to a college campus and beginning college classes for the first time. Reflecting over this past year, I could not have been more wrong about being a part of a research group! Being on a research team has been an enlightening and satisfying experience. 

Illustration: an urban heat island. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech, https://climatekids.nasa.gov/heat-islands/

Research Focus: Urban Heat Island

I joined a research group that focused on finding the hottest and coolest places on Bowling Green State University’s campus. Bowling Green is part of an urban heat island. An urban heat island occurs when the temperature is higher in a city than the surrounding rural areas because there are so many man-made structures in one place, such as asphalt parking lots, buildings, concrete structures, and cars. 

Camera Technology

My group and I wanted to find the hottest places on campus and find ways to cool the temperature on campus. We collected data each week at twelve locations throughout campus. Five locations were natural, such as; ponds, grass, and green roofs. Seven locations were man-made, such as roofs and asphalt parking lots. At each location, we recorded the air temperature and surface temperature by using infrared thermometers, as well as FLIR thermal cameras

FLIR T540 Professional Thermal Camera, photo credit: https://www.flir.com/

Roofing Systems

After collecting data for eight weeks, we concluded that the parking lots and roofs on campus had the hottest temperatures. After extensive research, we found that solutions to lower the temperatures on Bowling Green’s campus are to plant trees and vegetation, as well as implement green roofs and stone roofs. 

Green and stone roof systems diagrams, credits: http://www.coninnco.com/building-envelope/dow-building-solutions/inverted-roof-systems, http://godfreyroofing.com/commercial/education/roofing-articles/introduction-to-green-roofing/


Using our conclusive solutions, we wrote a Green Fund Grant Proposal to BGSU to implement stone roofs to coat the roof of a dorm with no air conditioning, to cool temperatures. 


Graph 1: Natural vs. Man-made Surface Temperature and Air Temperatures created by Allison Cheek and an aerial image of McDonald Hall’s proposed roof site, at Bowling Green State University.

Seek Out Researching Opportunities

Being part of this research team was extremely rewarding for me. We were able to collect data, collaborate ideas, and attempt to implement a solution to cooling BGSU’s campus. I have seen the scientific method come to life with the process of research. Being able to participate in research at a university has been a wonderful experience and I would highly recommend participating in exploration if given the opportunity. This experience has helped me apply my scientific knowledge and make a difference by improving Bowling Green’s campus.

I am grateful to the ACTION Program and to my research advisor, Dr. Jodi Haney, for making this opportunity possible!

Photo: Left Allison Cheek, right Alyson Blunk, research students at BGSU.