Laura Kramer, SMV's manager of science conductors, Chemistry Professor April Marchetti '97, and Jen LaBarge '15
LaBarge (left) in the demonstration kitchen at the Science Museum of Virginia
Randolph-Macon College student Jen LaBarge ’15 is a chemistry major and biology minor. Last summer, she gained some hands-on experience at the Science Museum of Virginia (SMV), where she implemented an educational module that she created.
SURFBefore putting her project into motion at the SMV, LaBarge conducted research in conjunction with R-MC’s Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program.
Her project, titled STEM Education in Action: Forming a Partnership between Randolph-Macon College and the Science Museum of Virginia, focuses on the creation of educational modules that convey the science of cooking to middle-school-age students. (STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.)
Her research was done under the mentorship of Chemistry Professor April Marchetti ’97, the Garnett-Lambert Professor of Chemistry at Randolph-Macon College.
STEM“The science departments at Randolph-Macon College are committed to contributing to STEM education opportunities for young people in the Richmond area,” says Marchetti. “Research shows that early exposure to science can greatly increase students’ chances of being engaged in it when they’re older. We were thrilled to be able to have this opportunity to collaborate with the Science Museum of Virginia to introduce STEM literacy to this age group in a fun fashion.”
The ProjectLaBarge, a native of Crofton, Maryland, worked with the Gallery Education staff at the SMV to help create the curriculum for the demonstration kitchen in the museum’s newest exhibit, “Boost!”
The exhibit aims to help participants boost their creativity, flexibility, memory, and strength with the help of exercise machines, interactive games, nutritious snacks and more.
“I created several modules, which focus on the scientific processes involved in cooking and convey the importance of good nutrition,” says LaBarge. “Each module includes a nutritious recipe, a kid-friendly activity, and a list of talking points that staff members use while giving demonstrations.”
Marchetti is thrilled with LaBarge’s research and enthusiasm.
“Jen really took this project and ran with it—from the time she began the project she was full of great ideas that worked well when they were employed in the ‘Boost!’ kitchen,” says Marchetti. “All of us in the Chemistry Department are so pleased with how much she contributed to the new exhibit.”
AthleticsOn campus, LaBarge is a standout on the Randolph-Macon soccer team.
“I wanted a college where I could play soccer as well as get a first-rate education,” says LaBarge, a team captain. “I believe that being a student-athlete has made me a better person. Soccer serves as a constructive outlet, allowing me to deal with the stresses of school. And serving as a team captain has also honed my leadership and managerial skills.”
Macon ConnectionsLaBarge, a member of the Honors program and a Presidential Scholar, credits R-MC professors for inspiring her academic success.
“All of my professors, especially those in the Chemistry Department, have been absolutely wonderful in furthering my interests,” she says. “Each professor I have had has nurtured my abilities and helped me reach my goals, and collectively they have shaped me into the student that I am now.” Her advice to new students?
“Make the most of the opportunities that are available,” says LaBarge, whose post-R-MC plans include pharmacy school. “You can make so many great connections and receive so many opportunities here. Go for it.” Read more Student Experience stories.