UCF Chemistry Students Judge at Science Competition

University of Central Florida’s Uknighted Chemistry Graduate Student Association volunteered at an Orlando Science Center competition on March 11, 2017.

The members of Uknighted Chemistry Graduate Student Association served as volunteer judges at the Science Challenge competition. Although the organization volunteers in the community often, this particular event was a first for the 3-year-old organization.

The Science Challenge encourages excellence in science education and provided an intermediate between the county science fairs and the state science fairs. The participants are first place winners in the physical science competitions in county science fairs in nine surrounding counties.

The event was important because, according to President of the organization and second year chemistry graduate student Kathleen McCormac, the earlier students get into research the better it is for them in the long run.
“It teaches students techniques that will help them throughout the rest of their academic life as well as their career,” said McCormac. “It also helps increase their chances of getting into higher caliber secondary education for those still in high school.”

As for undergraduates, McCormac explained it increases their chances of getting a publication before graduation and getting into various graduate programs.

As recent undergraduate students themselves, members of the organization can relate to the students they’re judging in the competition.

“The grad-student judges are closer in age to the student-scientists, so they can relate better to the judges and their feedback,” explained Associate Professor of Chemistry and Optics, Stephen M. Kuebler, Ph.D. “And it goes the other way, in that by judging, the grad students are placed in a leadership role which helps them grow professionally and refine their communication skills.”

View more photos from the event here.

The Uknighted Chemistry Graduate Student Association is an organization that unites graduate students for various beneficial causes.

“We were formed as a way to get the graduate students together and discuss our research and be a voice for graduate students to our department, and to the school as a whole,” said McCormac.

Some of the organization’s activities include monthly meetings and social events, educational outreach to the community, promoting the professional development of their members, helping set up and break down Science Café, and hosting fundraisers. Its next fundraiser will be at World of Beer on March 24, 2017 from 12:00 pm – 11:00 p.m., where 20 percent of the proceeds will benefit the organization.

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