By Helen Widman
Students watch with anticipation as glassblower Anthony Corradetti wields a flame to sculpt glowing, hot glass in his studio. By his side, materials scientist Dr. Joe Ryan narrates his actions for a group of high school students to highlight the science behind the art. For many of these young Baltimore residents, Corradetti’s demonstration served as their first introduction into the world of materials science.
“The goal of the event was to introduce the high school students to the art and science of glass, and give examples of what types of careers are possible and how to pursue them,” Dr. Irene M. Peterson of Corning Research and Development said.
Peterson led the planning team for the Baltimore high school outreach event. She serves as the executive committee vice chair of the Glass and Optical Materials Division (GOMD) of the American Ceramic Society (ACerS), and used her connections there to recruit graduate student volunteers from the ACerS President’s Council of Student Advisors (PCSA). Owens-Corning and Corning Research and Development sponsored the event along with GOMD.
Dr. Michelle Korwin-Edson, Dr. Joe Ryan and Howard Cohen all contributed to the event’s success on the planning team as well.
Three Baltimore schools, Western High School, Baltimore Design School, and Baltimore City College attended the event at Corradetti Glassblowing Studio and Gallery. In total, 90 students and four teachers observed Corradetti’s glass blowing demonstrations.
Students engaged in a lively career panel following the glass blowing demonstrations aimed to inspire the high schoolers and show them that a career in the materials science industry isn’t out of their reach.
“The most rewarding part was to see the wonder and joy on the faces of the students at the glassblowing demonstration and hear them ask questions so eagerly during the career panel,” Peterson said.
Gang Chen, an associate professor in the department of physics and astronomy at Ohio University, also helped on the planning committee and served as one of the career panelists.
“High school students will make an important decision when they go to college: what should I study as an undergraduate student?” Chen said. “It is very important to introduce them to a field related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) and let them think about if this field is something they are interested in.”
Ms. Vonceil Anderson’s students at Western High School shared their excitement about their field trip experience afterward.
“I loved the science behind it and I’m interested in glass making,” Brianna B. said. “The glass art within the room was beautiful.”
Many students enjoyed the educational yet entertaining atmosphere the day provided and some learned more about their own personal interests.
“I am really grateful for the opportunity and excited that I learned something that broadened my interests,” Blessing Z. said. “Thanks again for showing us the beauty of glass.”