Students learn magic of science |

Students learn magic of science

by Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer
WNCC's Ron Newton explains the wonders of thermal dynamics with a device that opposes heat and cold to make a small wheel turn. Newton and others from the WNCC science dept spoke to a group of high school students about the 'magic' of science and engineering.

With nothing up his sleeve, Ron Newton commanded an aluminum triangle to levitate before a group of high school students Friday morning.

But Newton is no magician. He’s a scientist.

A lab assistant for physics professor Robert Collier at Western Nevada Community College, Newton worked with Collier to demonstrate a variety of experiments at the college’s first ACES, Amazing Concepts in Engineering and Science, conference.

“All scientists have to be able to observe what they’re seeing,” Collier told the students, inviting them to venture theories as to why the triangle floated above the table.

Ben Menesini, a senior at Yerington High School, correctly identified the source as electromagnetic force.

Engineering instructor Dave Williams organized the conference to inspire students in engineering and science and to familiarize them with the college campus.

It worked for Dayton High School senior Andrew Johnson, who plans to study mechanical engineering at WNCC next year.

He said the conference helped solidify the decision for him.

“The demonstrations are really in-depth,” he said. “They give you a visual example of what you may be doing later in life.”

One of the greatest tasks facing science, Collier said, is creating a safe, efficient and cheap alternate energy source.

“You can actually go places no one have ever been before, right here on earth,” he said. “It may take a lot of sweat and tears, but you can make discoveries no one knows about. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

The new discovery may build upon old concepts such as the Stirling Engine, powered through hot and cold temperatures working against each other.

“As the air expands, it pushes up the power pistons,” Newton explained. “Once the air cools, it pulls the pistons down.”

And discovery has no gender bias.

Rachel Hurt, 18, said she knows the field is dominated by men but is eager to pursue a career in engineering.

“I think I can do it just as well as anyone else can,” she said. “A man’s brain isn’t any better than a woman’s.”

Students participating in the institute were selected by science teachers at their respective schools.