PEARL – “It’s really beyond cool!”
About 75 high school juniors and seniors from Rankin County had much the same reaction throughout Honors Day, held Oct. 20 at Hinds Community College Rankin Campus. The event showcased the Honors program and areas of study typically needed to pursue advanced degrees in math and science.
Justice Stewart, of Brandon High School, played a vital role in a demonstration by physics instructor Dr. Carl DeWitt. In it, students took turns pumping air into a bazooka made of PVC, then shot a projectile made of gumballs taped together.
“It’s all really just cool,” Stewart said after her work to pump the device provided the proper air pressure to make it work. “I’m interested in science and animals, possibly zoology,” Stewart said.
DeWitt said the lesson shows work can be measured in terms of energy once certain formulas were applied. “Work equals change in energy,” he said. “We can measure the amount of work you did and put a number to it.”
In another room, prospective students to the Rankin Campus got to hold fire in their hands, literally, with chemistry instructor Amanda Blair as a moderator of sorts. Methane gas was pumped into dish soap, where students then took turns igniting the suds with a match. The bubbles burst into an impressive but manageable fireball in the air.
Jason Lin, of Brandon High School, and Charlie Hillman, of Richland High School, got quite the jolt from Blair’s experiment. “Strike it, light it,” Blair told them. “You can actually hold fire and water in your hands without getting burned.”
Students also toured the Honors Center lounge area in the George Wynne Building, as well as the most important details of the Honors program from coordinator Joy Rhoads. To qualify for the Honors program, entering freshman must have a high school GPA of 3.5 or a 25 on the ACT college entrance exam – but not both. Rhoads emphasized the program’s ability to bring learning to life outside the classroom, particularly trips to England and Costa Rica where students earn between three and seven hours of college credit.
“It’s a great opportunity for students to learn outside the classroom,” she said. “Sometimes, you remember more about those activities and lessons where you actually get your hands dirty.”
Many students who qualify for the Hinds Honors program will also earn the grades to become members of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society for two-year college students. Those students are eligible for high-dollar transfer scholarships to the state’s four-year public and private universities.
Both featured instructors pointed out the Honors program isn’t the only draw to Hinds.
“We have smaller classes and we care about you,” Blair said. “We want you to visit us in our offices and ask us questions. It’s a great foundation.”
DeWitt reminded students hands-on physical science is the best way to get into most science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers.
“Any kind of engineering field you go into, you’ll have to take physics,” DeWitt said.
The same goes for those planning on taking core courses at Hinds on their way to healthcare jobs as well.
“I’ve liked and enjoyed the open house event,” said Kimberly Mills, a senior at Brandon High School. “I plan on going into chemistry, then trying to be a surgeon.”
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