Science Fun


Posted On: 17 Jan

St. Mary Magdalene is our Spotlight School of the Week


GRADE: 1st
PROGRAM: Measure Treasure
Scientist: Craig

It (was) Friday! By the time you read this, it won’t be Friday anymore. Anyway, I was excited to wake up and attend my favorite grade at St. Mary Magdalene today. I had visited the first graders earlier this year, so they knew a little about what to expect. Today I was teaching them all about the importance of measuring in science. As a reader, you might be thinking this may be a very boring topic to bring into a classroom of first graders. Well, I was confident I had it all covered.

We started off discussing the importance of standard measurements instead of non-standard in science. To show them, we made one of my favorite experiments: Elephant’s Toothpaste! We measured out specific amounts of chemicals to create a wildly, foamy concoction. By doing this, we were able to understand what might have happened differently if we didn’t use correct measurements.

The students then had a chance at engineering and operating a crane that was able to lift some treasure from the bottom of the ocean. This required them to use some estimates as well as exact measurements so our crane did not topple over and was strong enough to lift our treasure.

After deconstructing our cranes, we used chemicals to measure out chemicals to create exploding mini volcanoes right in the classroom. The students always get a kick out of the eruptions. We concluded our program by creating slime. Of course, this required exact measurements to create the consistency that we wanted. Weirdly, the students mentioned how much the slime smelled like Cheerios. Never a dull moment!

Keep Exploring!

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Posted On: 21 Dec

Olds Elementary is our Spotlight School of the Week

Olds Elementary

GRADE: 2nd
PROGRAM: Sound Surprise
Scientist: Christine

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Chris…Wow! This school is right by my house. What?! How have I never been to this school? I used to run by this school every Wednesday with a friend from Run Club.

These were the thoughts running through my head when I pulled up the school on Google Maps. I was delight it was only 11 minutes away and that I would be in a beautiful neighborhood in downtown Raleigh. Although, it was raining I was delighted to try out a new school. That’s one of the most delightful things about this job. Visiting new schools! I have been to over 200 different schools in NC! Maybe even more than that, and I love adding more to my list.

A new school has a good ring to it. Ring? Noise? Vibrations? What a perfect day to teach “Sound Surprise” to the 2nd graders at Olds. I succeeded at surprising them with a needle balloon pop and made student giggle with delight when being splashed in the face with water.

So much water on a rainy day! Hopefully, next time, it will be sunny, but like I said it didn’t’ get my spirits down.

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Posted On: 13 Dec

Morris Grove Elementary is our Spotlight School of the Week


GRADE: 3rd
PROGRAM: A Matter of Science
Scientist: Cameron

Morris Grove Elementary in Chapel Hill has the best t-shirts. No, really! It’s true! I visited 3rd grade here this week to teach “A Matter of Science”, which is my very favorite program.  As I surveyed my first group, I noticed a child wearing a light blue t-shirt that had a white image of North Carolina with the word “gecko” in the middle. I laughed quietly to myself at what I thought a parody; maybe this kid had visited some reptile zoo that had themed t-shirts. I’m sure you’ve seen shirts just like that before, which instead say “home” in the middle. No? It’s just me? Well, I think they’re cool, and people from lots of different states have them. At any rate, I mostly forgot about the shirt as I launched into the program.

We discussed the differences between solids, liquids, and gases, as well as what is required to transition between those states of matter. Our first experiment involved removing heat from a mixture of solids and liquids to freeze it into ice cream. (“Yay!!”) After we made it, I told the kids we weren’t going to eat it right away. (“No!!”) But it was only because we had two more experiments to do first. (“Yay!!”)

As I called volunteers for the second experiment, something caught my eye—another shirt! I said “I like your shirt!” to the volunteer wearing it, and then I thought to myself, ‘That’s weird. Two of the same shirt… Maybe they both went to the same reptile zoo?’ But I thought no more and moved on. The second experiment involved mixing several solid chemicals into a bag of water, which I deviously called “Dihydrogen monoxide” (the parody chemical name for water) to throw off the kids. The final solid added to the bag caused a reaction that created some gas—then more gas, and more, and more, until BOOM. The bag popped!

After discussing the results of this experiment, we moved on to creating their take-home: disappearing ink! We made it by adding a liquid base indicator to a slightly alkaline solution. And of course, I didn’t tell them that it was disappearing ink until AFTER I had squirted it on several kids. Classic.

But guess what? I saw that my unlucky victim was wearing ANOTHER shirt! Three is more than a coincidence. I stopped everything to ask the class, “Okay guys, what’s up with these shirts? Where did they come from?” And the class said, “They’re from our school. Our mascot is a gecko!” That made so. Much. Sense. Why didn’t I think of that? I told them their school had the coolest t-shirts, then said that we had finished the program and it was time to return to their class. “What about the ice cream?” said one of them. I said I didn’t know what she meant. “The ICE CREAM!” they all cried emphatically. “Oh!” I said. “You actually wanted to EAT it?” They replied that, yes, they definitely wanted to eat it. And so they did.

I had a blast at this school and would love to return! Until then, continue to rock those cool shirts!
– Scientist Cameron

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Posted On: 16 Oct

Astronomy: Did you know how NASA names their Mars Rovers??

This artist’s rendition depicts NASA’s Mars 2020 rover studying its surroundings. Mars 2020 is targeted for launch in July or August 2020 from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA has a class assignment for corporations, nonprofits and educational organizations involved in science and space exploration: partner with the agency to inspire future engineers and scientists by sponsoring a contest to name the next rover to venture to the Red Planet.

The contest will allow U.S. students in grades K-12 to propose a name for NASA’s next Mars rover (currently being built at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California) and write an essay about their choice. The partner will work with NASA to conduct the contest during the 2019 academic year.

Click here to learn more about the Mars Rover 2020.

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