Apprentice of #039;Science Wizard#039; enjoys outreach

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 10, 2004

It sounds like something out of a Harry Potter novel, but Ohio University Southern student Chris Sanders is basically a wizard in training.

A science wizard, that is.

For the past year, the 20-year-old chemical engineering sophomore has been helping out at the OUS Nature Center in the Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area and playing wizard's apprentice to professor Bob Culp, affectionately known as the "Science Wizard."

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Sanders has given or participated in approximately 30 presentations through the outreach programs that include science wizard shows, reptile exhibits and anything else going on at the Nature Center. All the programs try to show children that science can be fun.

"The most rewarding part is, by far, being able to help bring the sciences to students who don't always get to experience the sciences in the way we are able to bring it to them," Sanders said. "To take kids who have never been there before on the nature hikes around Lake Vesuvius is really amazing and as eye opening to me at times as it is to them."

Sanders' volunteer efforts began almost by coincidence. As a freshman who had recently graduated from Green High School, he met with Culp who was his advisor. Once they began talking, Sanders was immediately interested, so he began helping out.

Culp said he greatly appreciates all the volunteers who make the Nature Center outreach programs possible. The professor said it is "wonderful" and "really great" to have someone like Chris be a part of the activities.

"It makes so much a difference to have students that participate in class and are not just sitting there," Culp said.

Culp, who worked at Ashland Oil for nearly 25 years, said he has no doubt that Chris will make an excellent chemical engineer one day.

But for now, Chris couldn't be happier working his scientific spells with the "Science Wizard."

"The nature center programs are an invaluable resource that is a way for people to see things they have never seen before," Sanders said. "Even if they have experienced some of the things we have, it is a way for them to expand their knowledge of the world around them."