Elon Explorers hosts first Science Slices event

Jen Hamel and Mark Enfield's grant from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund provides support for monthly science cafe's for Alamance Burlington School System middle school students and their families.

Elon Explorers is a middle school science outreach program created by Associate Professor of Education Mark Enfield and Associate Professor of Biology Jen Hamel.

Having recently been awarded a Burroughs Wellcome Fund grant through the Student Science Enrichment Program, Enfield and Hamel hosted the first Science Slices event on Thursday, March 3. Science Slices is a monthly science café for Alamance Burlington School System middle school students and their families.

Hamel welcomed students and their families to the program that began with a light meal served outdoors at the Elon Experiential Campus. Thirty-six people from across the county got to know one another and shared their passion and interest for science.

After dinner, Hamel shared with the group about her research studying insect communication. She and her students study how interactions between species shape insect signals and behavior. Students and their families held and observed Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches and Bess Beetles – a local native species – as the big insects hissed and squeaked.

Finally, participants engaged in an interactive modeling activity, in which they used sound makers and tried to find other individuals of the same “species” – matching their sound to the sound of another person in the room.

At the end of the evening, several families and students asked about the next Science Slices event, which will be on April 7, 2022

Hamel and Enfield were supported by Melaine Rikard, an ABSS middle school teacher, Faith Minor ’22 and Ainsley Shan ’22, both of whom are Elon undergraduate students.