Science author to visit Chesterfield Oct. 5

As part of the Visiting Science Author Program coordinated by Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS), Monacan High School will host Dr. Rutger Van Santen on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011.

A world-renowned theoretical chemist from the Netherlands, Dr. Van Santen will be discussing his book, “2030: Technology That Will Change the World,” with Chesterfield high school students at two 75-minute sessions that day – one at 9 a.m.; the other at 10:30 a.m. There he will be interacting with students and will provide background information on his book.

However, later that evening, at 6:30 p.m., Dr. Van Santen will give a more formal presentation on his views of the role of technology today, and then will be responding to questions from a panel of local science and technology experts, as well as local Chesterfield County teachers and students. Whereas only students and teachers are invited to the morning sessions, the public is invited to the panel discussion in the evening.

“Our goal is to make it very interactive between students and the author, the community and the author,” said Dr. Melanie Haimes-Bartolf, an instructional specialist for the Science Instruction Division Center for CCPS. “We try to involve as many stakeholders as possible and obviously choose a book that would be interesting to a diverse range – but keep it within that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) interest.”

According to Haimes-Bartolf, CCPS distributed the books to many high schools last spring; nonetheless, she said several VSU (Virginia State University) faculty members and students, who were also given the book, will be attending the evening session.

Haimes-Bartolf said “2030: Technology That Will Change the World” was chosen because it presents the challenges created by technology while simultaneously seeking solutions to these challenges by the use of technology – illustrating to students the consequences from human activity, whether “logical or unintended.”

“I think it’s important that students see that problem-solving involves an integrated and diverse group of people … and then the outcomes may be more promising,” she said. “The other thing about the book that I like is that it gives a hopeful message to young people that their destiny isn’t totally out of their control, and hopefully they’re the key to a better world.”

For Dr. Nancy Hoover, the center coordinator for the Governor’s Academy of Engineering at L.C. Bird High School, technology’s role in an ever-changing world is “mind-boggling.”

“I think it makes our life so much more efficient, but at the same time it seems to make the pace go so fast …,” she said, “and at the same time we are compelled to do more work because of it” – which is the overarching theme in the book.

Hoover, who will be attending the evening session as part of the panel, feels the event should be interesting to students because they will tap the technology that’s developing so quickly for, hopefully, good purposes, she said.

Regardless of the heavy content, the book is void of esoteric language and is readable to the general public, she said, as are all the books the program chooses.

For Haimes-Bartolf, the panel discussion is beneficial to students in that the exposure to new and fresh ideas helps them precipitate thinking and spawning questions of their own.

For the morning session, space is available to 10 students per school. For more information, contact Dr. Melanie Haimes-Bartolf,


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