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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Inspiring Success Story: 4th grade visit inspires Dakota White

Dakota White smiles, remembering his Barnes Elementary 4th Grade class’s visit to Lower Columbia College.

Dakota White
“The thing I remember most was walking into a Chemistry lab—I think Adam Wolfer was doing the demonstration—and watching potassium burn in water, and thinking it was awesome. That, and playing with the clay in the ceramics lab….”
This year, the Kelso High School junior is a Running Start student at LCC, taking Wolfer’s CHEM 163, third in the General Chemistry sequence for science majors.

The future chemical engineer was also the main event for the Chemistry part of Barnes Day 2012. In Wolfer’s chemistry classroom, Dakota demonstrated a “Briggs-Rauscher Reaction,” combining three chemicals to set off a showy series of color changes, flashing back and forth.
“The first time I saw this, it was so amazing, I thought it had to be PhotoShopped.” (It’s not.)
When Dakota and his own class visited LCC for Barnes Day seven years ago, he was already thinking science was the way to go. The chemistry included in his seventh grade science class encouraged him, and high school chemistry was great too. “I realized that I really enjoyed it, and that I was good at it.”

College was definitely on his horizon.
“I wanted to grow up, go to a 4-year college, get a good job and have a career. As a person, I like to have a plan.”
This year, he took honors classes at KHS, and Chemistry at LCC. Next year, he’ll take Calculus and Organic Chemistry at LCC. Next, he hopes to finish his bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington, then add an MBA.

Chemistry is all around us, Dakota points out.
“It’s in our everyday life, right down to washing your dishes; what kind of soap you use. Science is pushing forward and it will keep going and going. In areas like energy, these things have to be found, and people have to find them. We need more people going into science and progressing.”
Dakota is looking forward to working as a chemical engineer.
“It’s very hands-on. You’re always learning and finding new things."
Every spring, fourth-grade students from Barnes Elementary School visit Lower Columbia College to see the campus, meet faculty, and watch demonstrations. They even get to meet the President!

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