The alumni students divided into groups, moved from the classroom into the labs and began working on their assigned problems.
In the physics group, for example, one team gathered data on how fast
coffee filters fell when dropped, some while open and others after
being crumpled. Another group filled different types of glasses with
water, covered them with different types and sizes of cards, and
investigated which ones could be turned upside down or sideways without
losing their covers and spilling their contents.
Guided by Oriade and preceptor Christina Wesolek, the students used
iPads and other technological tools to record, graph, create photos and
videos and analyze their results. They gathered again and explained
their findings to one another.
When doing a similar exercise with undergraduates, Wesolek said, she
might point out the comparison of the coffee filter experiment to the
real experience of skydiving. When an object has more surface area — a
wide-open coffee filter or a skydiver with her arms spread wide — it
falls more slowly than when it is compact.
Other alumni groups took part in similar problem-solving involving
biology, and the entire group concluded the session with an exercise
combining biology and chemistry that resulted in a batch of homemade ice
cream shared among the students.
For one group of participants, the session was a three-generation
family affair. Goodwin Cobb IV, a member of the Class of 1999, and his
wife, Maria Cobb, a member of the Class of 1999 who received a master’s
degree in 2002, attended with their three children and Goodwin Cobb’s
mother, Paula Cobb.
“We thought it would be a good educational experience for our
children [ages 13, 9 and 3], and we wanted to expose them to what the
University has to offer,” Maria Cobb said. “We hope that all three of
them will be alumni someday.”