Lawrence Tech, DAPCEP partner for hands-on Saturday chemistry program for high school students

SOUTHFIELD—Faculty in Lawrence Tech’s College of Arts and Sciences (CoAS) are collaborating with the Detroit Area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) for a fun, hands-on Saturday chemistry program, where high school students learn about the chemistry of antacids, aspirin and the Marvel Studios blockbuster Black Panther films.

Led by Professor LaVetta Appleby, senior lecturer in the Department of Natural Sciences, the LTU-DAPCEP Saturday Chemistry Program is a 3-year (five-semester) initiative for approximately 20 DAPCEP 10th grade scholars on the LTU campus.

All courses are taught by LTU faculty: Shannon Timmons, associate professor and Department of Natural Sciences chair; Nikki Villeneuve, professor of chemistry; Sibrina Collins, associate professor and executive director of STEM education for CoAS; and LTU Master of Science Education alumni Mercede Hurt-Dorty and Andrea Cole.

During the first year of the program, the Spring 2023 semester, DAPCEP students will be introduced to basic chemistry concepts and hands-on experiments. In the program’s second year, the Fall 2023 and Spring 2024 semester, and third year, Fall 2024 and Spring 2025, students will learn more advanced chemistry concepts and apply what they learn to complete research projects.

The first year program began Saturday, Feb. 4, where the DAPCEP scholars learned about careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and media communications from an LTU faculty panel, consisting of Timmons; George Moschelli, associate professor of physics; Julie Zwiesler-Vollick, associate professor biology; Therese Jamison, director of LTU’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program; Jody Gaber, director of LTU’s Media Communications program; and Yawen Li, associate professor and chair of LTU’s Department of Biomedical Engineering.

On Feb., 11, Villenenve led an acid-base laboratory activity where students explored the chemistry of antacids, and on Saturday, Feb. 18, Collins led an activity that explored the chemistry of vibranium, the fictional element featured in Marvel Studios’ Black Panther films.  Timmons will be leading a new workshop on Saturday, March 4 focused on the synthesis and characterization of aspirin.

The first year program will end with a DAPCEP student showcase poster session held at Second Ebenezer Church in Detroit on March 25.

Students who complete the program successfully will be eligible to receive a four-year scholarship worth $78,000 if they decide to attend LTU and major in a variety of STEM disciplines, not necessarily chemistry.

“What makes it great is that students in this program see students from other schools within the city of Detroit, suburban school districts, charter schools, and we even have some home schooled students,” said Michelle Reaves, DAPCEP executive director. “So it really brings some diversity to the classroom.”

To learn more about the LTU-DAPCEP Saturday Chemistry Program, contact Professor LaVetta Appleby at

Lawrence Technological University is one of only 13 private, technological, comprehensive doctoral universities in the United States. Located in Southfield, Mich., LTU was founded in 1932, and offers more than 100 programs through its Colleges of Architecture and Design, Arts and Sciences, Business and Information Technology, and Engineering. PayScale lists Lawrence Tech among the nation’s top 11 percent of universities for alumni salaries. Forbes and The Wall Street Journal rank LTU among the nation’s top 10 percent. U.S. News and World Report lists it in the top tier of best in the Midwest colleges. Students benefit from small class sizes and a real-world, hands-on, “theory and practice” education with an emphasis on leadership. Activities on Lawrence Tech’s 107-acre campus include more than 60 student organizations and NAIA varsity sports.

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