Port Day highlights student experiential learning

Port Day was held on Nov. 30 from 9 a.m. to  6 p.m. at Virginia Wesleyan University in the Goode Fine and Performing Arts Center and other locations on campus. This event was coordinated by the campus Lighthouse: Center for Exploration and Discovery. 

Port Day celebrates the achievement of students who have completed a variety of academic experiences. These academic experiences included research projects and internships. 

During this event, there were three concurrent sessions that took place where students were able to share their work with oral, poster or panel presentations. A total of 25 students gave oral presentations in the Premier Speaker and Concurrent sessions that happened throughout the day and 50 students presented posters during the academic fair.

The three sessions included the honors seminar presentations, internships in communications presentations, the music major performance concert, Brock school internship and research presentations, curtain-up staging collaborative research and visual art open studio revelation. 

Junior Brooke Morris presented a group project from her Analytical Chemistry class on the comparison of two colorimetry techniques: Paper microPADs and UV Spectroscopy. They tested each technique on its ability to detect chromium levels. 

The group took two different samples, one from the new retention pond next to DeFord Manor and a stimulated sample they created in their lab. They learned how to compile different methods and adapt analytical techniques from other studies. 

Morris explained how being a part of this project helped her. “The ability to pull data from other research studies will be incredibly useful in my future endeavors. Going past my undergraduate degree is going to require a lot of reading of case studies and this was a fantastic learning experience,” Morris said. 

She also expressed what she wishes other students would take from this. “I hope other students, primarily the students in lower-level chemistry classes or those interested in a chemistry major, see how many different techniques there are to find similar results,” Morris said. 

Another presentation was given by junior Devin Calpo. He talked about the behavior of asian needle ants and if bait influences capture. This was used to determine its geographic distribution and relative abundance around Virginia. 

To study this he experimented by “using a pitfall trapping method using two solo cups placed in a fitted hole and wire mesh placed above,” Calpo said. 

He set these traps up in different locations in Virginia Beach, Richmond, Chesapeake, Surry and Williamsburg using different bait that included hot dog, tuna and honey. In the end, he found no significant difference on the behavior of the asian needle ants and the type of bait he used. 

This day was a conference-style event that has been a campus tradition since 2016. This event is typically held at the end of each semester. Due to COVID-19 regulations, this event has not occurred in person since the fall semester of 2019. 

“The event returning to an in-person format is a terrific thing, and I believe it promotes direct engagement and collegiality in an important way,” Professor of Art and Curator of Exhibitions John Rudel said. 

Rudel has had his own students participate in this event in previous semesters and has hosted a session himself before. He has also served on the undergraduate research program committee. 

He expressed what he hoped students would take away from attending or being a part of Port Day. “This is an event where students are exposed to novel information, interesting people, and for many, it is an opportunity to be energized and recognize future opportunities they might pursue themselves,” Rudel said. 

There were also tickets given to those who attended premier and concurrent sessions throughout the day. These were later eligible raffle prizes that were drawn during the academic fair and poster session that was held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

Students should check their school emails for Virginia Wesleyan Lighthouse updates on Spring 2022 semester regarding Port Day events.

By: Jade East