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S.T.E.M. Spotlight

Kids Chemistry Night 2023

Kids Chemistry Night

Left to Right: Elena Sanfilippo, Jakoi Jamieson, Dr. Dustin McCall, Jason Kirk, George Paez, Tanvir Singh, MJ Moran, Enrique Contreras Nava, Gabby Caceres, Emily Magoch, Brisa Gonzalez, Jadel Estiverne, Prof. Jacqueline Bair, Tighearnan Norton, and Brandon Rodriguez. (Photo courtesy of Prof. Anthony Soricelli).

Kids Chemistry Night is a fun-filled event for kids ages 5 - 10 and a standing tradition at SUNY Orange first organized by Dr. Timothy MacMahon and Prof. Cynthia MacMahon. Kids Chemistry Night took a break during the COVID pandemic and this is our first year back since the pandemic.

Our goal with Kids Chemistry Night is to help spread interest in STEM related fields to a younger generation while simultaneously allowing SUNY Orange students to connect and work alongside the local community. The theme for Kids Chemistry Night 2023 was Health and Medicine. We had over 145 families (over 200 children in total) interested in the event but could only accommodate a maximum of 70 children due to space and safety. Families were first welcomed to SUNY Orange by enjoying hot dogs, fruits, snacks, desserts, popcorn, candy, and refreshments sponsored by the SUNY Orange Chemistry Club. Demonstrations by Dr. Dustin McCall and Prof. Jacqueline Bair followed.

Demonstrations included colorful flames, exploding balloons and pumpkins, rockets, breathing fire, screaming gummy bears, and elephant toothpaste which were all sponsored by the American Chemical Society.

Kids Chemistry NightKids Chemistry NightKids Chemistry NightKids Chemistry NightKids Chemistry NightKids Chemistry NightKids Chemistry NightKids Chemistry Night   

Dr. Dustin McCall and Prof. Jacqueline Bair conducting demonstrations for kids and their families. (Photos courtesy of Gabby Caceres, Prof. Barbara Wortman, Prof. Jacqueline Bair, and Dr. Angela Rios).

Families then rotated between different lab rooms where kids participated in three different activities. The activities were led by student volunteers from both the SUNY Orange Chemistry Club and the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP). The activities were sponsored by CSTEP. Student volunteers worked side-by-side with kids to help them with their activities. In one room, student volunteers taught kids about DNA and how it relates to everyone's unique characteristics. Kids then had the opportunity to extract real DNA out of fresh strawberries.

Kids Chemistry NightKids Chemistry Night

Left: Evaristo Gonzalez and Brandon Rodriguez discuss DNA and how to extract it. Right: Jadel Estiverne helps Anna extract DNA from strawberries. (Photos courtesy of Prof. Barbara Wortman and Prof. Lisa Zylberberg).

In the second room, student volunteers taught kids about how oil and water do not mix and how too much fat intake can be bad for your health. Kids then made colorful lava lamps that really bubbled and were able to take them home with them. The lava lamps showed how oil and water do not mix. 

Kids Chemistry Night

Left to Right: Gabby Caceres, Elena Sanfilippo, Emily Magoch, Prof. Jacqueline Bair, and Jadel Estiverne teach kids about oil and water and how to make lava lamps. (Photo courtesy of Prof. Barbara Wortman).

In the third room, student volunteers taught kids about polymers inside the body such as proteins. Kids then were able to make their own polymers in which they could take home: colorful and gooey slime.Kids were given a gift bag full of goodies as a show of appreciation for attending Kids Chemistry Night.

Kids Chemistry Night was a success with our largest turnout ever! 65 children, 58 parents, 24 student volunteers, 5 faculty volunteers, and three staff volunteers attended Kids Chemistry Night. Our SUNY Orange students were amazing and worked so well with the kids and their families. The kids were also amazing as they came with an incredible energy that lit up the room and an insatiable appetite for learning!

We want to thank all of the student volunteers from the SUNY Orange Chemistry Club and CSTEP, Prof. Jacqueline Bair, Prof. Anthony Soricelli, Prof. Lisa Zylberberg, Dr. Jennifer Merriam, Megan Engels, Donna Sanders, and Alyssa Walrad for all of their help preparing, hosting, and cleaning up. We also want to thank the SUNY Orange Chemistry Club, CSTEP, and the American Chemical Society for their generous donations or this event would not have been able to happen. Most of all, we want to thank all the kids and their families that attended Kids Chemistry Night because they are the ones that make events like this all worth it in the end.

We are looking forward to Kids Chemistry Night 2024 and already have 32 families interested for next year. The theme for next year is photography and imaging.  

Five SUNY Orange Students Complete Summer REU

REU Group Photo

Left to Right: Eduardo Camacho, Bianca Bermudez, Eileen Corrales, Enrique Contreras-Nava, and Antonio Gonzalez.

We are proud to announce that five SUNY Orange students have completed summer research experience for undergraduate (REU) projects at SUNY New Paltz. The REU projects were completed as part of the AC2 Program at SUNY New Paltz which is a combination of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation and the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program.


SUNY Orange student, Bianca Bermudez, worked with Dr. Ping-Chuan Wang in the Engineering Department examining the tensile weakness of structures produced using additive manufacturing such as 3D printing. Bianca and her group 3D printed dog-bone type structures of different lengths and measured the force required to pull the structure apart and the location of the fracture. Her research tests the Weakest Link Theory which states that a system composed of various components is as strong as its weakest region which is the interface between layers in 3D printing. Bianca's presentation was titled "Exploring Tensile Weakness of 3D-Printed Structures."


SUNY Orange student, Eduardo Camacho, worked with Dr. Kara Belinsky in the Biology Department to study the factors that are beneficial and harmful to native bird nesting. Eduardo and his group studied how the location of birdhouses with respect to populated areas, such as areas with buildings and parking lots, affect the species of birds to nest in those birdhouses. Eduardo discovered that placing birdhouses farthest from populated areas ensures that native bird species such as the House Wren can nest. Birdhouses closest to populated areas are inhabited by invasive House Sparrows which will kill off House Wren and disrupt the biodiversity of the local ecosystem. Eduardo's presentation was titled "What Factors Benefit or Impede in Native Bird Nesting?"


SUNY Orange student, Enrique Contreras-Nava, worked with Dr. Catherine Herne in the Physics Department to study the attachment times of B. bacteriovorus to E. coli using optical tweezers. Enrique and his group are using predatory B. bacteriovorus to kill off antibiotic resistant bacteria. Enrique is researching the optimal time for attachment and is using optical tweezers as an instrument to trap the bacteria to determine attachment time. Enrique's presentation was titled "Determining Attachment Time Between B. bacteriovorus and E. coli".


SUNY Orange student, Eileen Corrales, worked with Dr. Catherine Herne in the Physics Department to study the trap stiffness of optical tweezers. Eileen trapped B. bacteriovorus and E. coli using optical tweezers and treated the bacteria as if they were attached to the focal point of the optical tweezers by a spring. Using a position sensitive detector, Eileen measured the movement of the bacteria, converted the movement from the time domain to the frequency domain, fit the data to a Lorentzian curve to determine the corner frequency which was then be used to calculate the trap stiffness at various laser powers. Eileen discovered that trap stiffness increases with laser power and differs based on type of bacteria. Eileen's presentation was titled "Calibrating Trap Stiffness in Optical Tweezers".


SUNY Orange student, Antonio Gonzalez, worked with Dr. Heather Lai in the Engineering Department to examine the resilience of 3D printed tensegrity structures. Various tensegrity structures were compressed and released to produce a hysteresis loop to study their resilience. Antonio and his group determined that degree of twist had a significant effect on resilience and inner and outer beam diameters can be tuned to adjust the resilience of the structures. Tensegrity structures have the advantage of being light weight structures with a high degree of structural integrity during and after compression. Antonio's presentation was titled "Resilience of 3D Printed Tensegrity Structures".

We are very proud of our students and if you see them around campus, please tell them congratulations!

Meg Bechtle Wins ACS College Recognition Award

ACS College Recognition WinnersMeg Accepting ACS College Recognition AwardMeg with advisor

Photos courtesy of Gwen Malick

We are proud to announce that SUNY Orange student, Meg Bechtle, has won the 2023 American Chemical Society (ACS) College Recognition Award. The ACS College Recognition Award is awarded to one second-year student (community college) or one fourth-year student (four-year college) at each college in the Mid-Hudson region for excellence and outstanding performance in chemistry. Meg received her award at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at Bard College on April 21, 2023. The awards ceremony was followed by an excellent and informative lecture on Fun with 1 and 2 Electron Reactions by Dr. Patrick Walsh from the University of Pennsylvania and a dinner. Meg is currently taking Organic Chemistry II and will be transferring to Binghamton University in the Fall to continue her studies in Pharmaceutical Sciences. The Mid-Hudson Section of ACS is a professional society composed of chemists from industry and government, faculty members, and students that sponsors publications, conferences, lectures, and events around the community.  We are very proud of Meg and if you see her around campus, please tell her congratulations!

Three SUNY Orange Students Complete Summer REU

Brandon BarralesEileen CorralesArthur Gomez

Left to Right: Brandon Barrales, Eileen Corrales, and Arthur Gomez. Photos courtesy of Jesslyn Burgos.

We are proud to announce that three SUNY Orange students have completed summer research experience for undergraduate (REU) projects at SUNY New Paltz. The REU projects were completed as part of the AC2 Program at SUNY New Paltz which is a combination of the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation and the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program. SUNY Orange student, Brandon Barrales, worked with Dr. Rachmadian Wulandana in the Engineering Department designing and 3D printing two- and three-blade Darrieus-rotor turbines for hydroelectric applications and tested their efficiency. SUNY Orange students, Eileen Corrales and Arthur Gomez, worked with Dr. Catherine Herne in the Physics Department using optical tweezers to manipulate bacteria in order to study bacterial attachment. All three students presented their research on June 29, 2022. Brandon’s presentation was titled, “The Parametric Study of Darrieus Turbines in Air and Water”. Eileen and Arthur’s presentation was titled, “Measuring Attachment Time of Bdellovibrio bacteriovorus to E. coli Using Optical Tweezer.” All three students demonstrated an advanced understanding of their research project and presented both professionally and well. Brandon and Arthur are current SUNY Orange students studying Math and Engineering, respectively. Eileen just graduated and is attending SUNY New Paltz for Chemistry in the Fall. We are very proud of our students and if you see them around campus, please tell them congratulations!

Four SUNY Orange Students Compete in Community College Innovation Challenge

Community College Innovation Challenge Winners

Left to Right: Tyler Miller, Jakob Baumgartner, Selina Dziewic, Enrique Cardoso-Najera, and Dr. John Wolbeck. Photo courtesy of Michael Albright.

We are proud to announce that a team of four SUNY Orange students competed as one of 12 teams nationwide in the Community College Innovation Challenge which is organized by the American Association of Community Colleges and the National Science Foundation. SUNY Orange students, Jakob Baumgartner, Enrique Cardoso-Najera, Selina Dziewic, and Tyler Miller designed and built a working solar powered Peltier refrigerator for storing vaccines in Sub-Saharan climates. The team was mentored by engineering professor, Dr. John Wolbeck. The team presented their design and working refrigerator in Arlington, Virginia from June 13, 2022 through June 16, 2022 at the Innovation Boot Camp. Not only did the team have an opportunity to present their work, they also enjoyed informational sessions and workshops on how to improve their communication and entrepreneurial skills to further their innovations. All four students graduated from SUNY Orange this Spring. We are very proud of our students and if you see them around, please tell them congratulations!    

Kelly Phillips  

Kelly Phillips

STEM Spotlight: Meet Kelly Phillips, Class of 2016, Architectural Technology

Rarely in her tenure of teaching has Professor Pam Rice witnessed a student approach her work with such dedication, focus and calm as Kelly Phillips. Since her first semester in SUNY Orange s Architectural Technology program Kelly has steadily grown into a sensitive and thoughtful designer with a keen aesthetic sense uniquely her own. Her work speaks for itself.

You can see Kelly's work at https://kellyphillips.carbonmade.com

In the two years that Kelly has spent in the architectural technology program, she has developed strong model-making and sketching skills, and has become quite talented at digital modeling and rendering, always honing her talent. Kelly was a first-year architecture student when she signed up to participate in a year-long intensive architecture project with 10 of her classmates.

Throughout the 2014-15 academic year, students reviewed a series of case studies of five buildings by renowned architects located in Colorado, which included a holistic study of each building, thorough research of their architectural language, structural and enclosure systems, materiality, and construction details. The students created hand drawings, sketches, digital models, and renderings.

Kelly consistently performed at the top of the class. In preparation for a week-long field study at the end of the year, each student designed an individual project to be completed during the trip, and worked to enhance their studies of the aspects of the building architecture that interested them. Kelly was one of the students who remained intent on building a comprehensive study of these structures.

Upon return to campus, she assisted with, and participated in, an exhibition of this body of work, demonstrating some of her finest drawings. Being a part of the process, and the travel aspect of the trip in particular, seems to have prepared Kelly with the courage to set her sights on the next phase in her studies, and in life.

The Office of Alumni Relations recently caught up with Kelly to ask her the following questions:

What is/will be your favorite memory of SUNY Orange?

Last May I got the opportunity to travel to Colorado with the SUNY Orange Architecture Club. We all spent our first year here studying several buildings in different areas of Colorado and documenting them through both hand drawings and digital media. It was an amazing curriculum; getting to see the buildings in person after spending months studying pictures of them was so satisfying.

What has been your favorite class/teacher at SUNY Orange?

My favorite class is one that I am currently taking: Mechanical and Electrical Equipment with Professor Pam Rice. Our final project this semester is to design a tiny house and all of the systems that will be incorporated within. The idea is that it will be a prototype to help house the homeless population in Colorado. It's an incredible experience as a second year architecture student to design something that could potentially be life-changing for someone in need.

Where will you be heading after graduation on May 19?

This fall I will be attending the University of Colorado at Denver to finish my Bachelor's of Science in Architecture. I fell in love with Denver after going there last May and knew I wanted to apply there. It's a beautiful city and the university campus is right in the middle of it. I'm incredibly blessed that I will be able to start the next chapter of my life there.

What are your latest accomplishment(s)?

I was recently offered a job working at Mercer Interior in Warwick starting this summer. This will be my first time getting to work in a real design office and put what I've learned here to use. I'll be helping out in various different areas and will get hands-on experience with interior design, something that I have always been interested in.

What are your dreams for the future?

I have a few big dreams, but all of them come down to making a difference. I would love to travel to different countries to help design and build schools and housing for people in need. I love what architect Shigeru Ban has done by incorporating architectural design into the disaster relief work he has done around the world.

I would also like to somehow get involved with the restoration of Newburgh, the town I grew up in. Giving back is very important to me and if I can make even one person's life better through what I've learned, I will consider myself successful.

Kelly is the recipient of a SUNY Orange Foundation continuing education scholarship which will be awarded at the May 2016 Convocation Ceremony. She will graduate from SUNY Orange May 20th, 2016. All of us at her alma mater wish her the best in her future endeavors.

The STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs at SUNY Orange are supported by Orange & Rockland Utilities.