Science Fun

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Posted On: 13 Dec

Morris Grove Elementary is our Spotlight School of the Week

“Morris

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: 6 Dec

Endeavor Charter Elementary is our Spotlight School of the Week

“Endeavor

GRADE: 2nd
PROGRAM: Weather Wise
Scientist: Yani

Weather Wise is one of my favorite programs to teach! What makes it even better is when I teach the program and the students begin to relate the experiments back to what they learned in class. As an educator, it’s the best feeling in the world when the students actually take something away from the program they could use for the rest of the year.

The second graders at Endeavor Charter were great! They had been learning about different weather tools and even recognized all of the weather tools I brought into the classroom. They enjoyed making their very own weather station and were eager to try them out. They had lots of fun during the breakout experiments, especially with the wind bags, and tornado tubes. Overall, the classes were filled with amazing students who love to learn. Who knows? Maybe some of them will become meteorologist.

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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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Posted On: 29 Nov

Wake Forest Elementary is our Spotlight School of the Week

“Wake

GRADE: 5th
PROGRAM: Newton’s Lab
Scientist: Sarah

I have been to some schools that do a really great job of making science a priority (among the million other things teachers have to do each week), but on Thursday when I spent the day at Wake Forest Elementary the students in the fifth grade classes really stood out. In fact, I can’t seem to stop thinking about them and our day together.

We were about to start a program involving Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion, and as I finished getting everything set up in Mrs. Broder’s class, the students were talking to me and asking me questions. That isn’t out of the ordinary, but what was special about this group was that not a single student asked me if I was a “real scientist.” Instead, we talked about things like what experiments they’ve done in class, what the projects around the room were from, and what books they were reading for fun. I knew that these students were excited about the science experiments we were about to do, but the amazing part was that they saw science as something they could do any time. The field trip was “awesome” and “so fun!” and even “the best day ever” according to some of them, but it was also as normal as reading or math. When I saw that doing science experiments was as commonplace to them as division, using metaphors, or reading a great book, and I was filled with love and respect for all the teachers at Wake Forest Elementary School.

As a Science Fun for Everyone scientist, we are frequently asked questions, out of awe and excitement, things like “Are you really a scientist?” My standard answer is that anyone who does science is a scientist, so yes, I’m a scientist, and today they will be one too! It’s a friendly reminder that students can become anything they want to, and that school is a place where you can try out a whole slew of things and figure out what you enjoy doing. But that answer is also my way of connecting with students; it brings me down from Serious Professional In A Lab Coat, and transforms me into someone they can relate to and see themselves in. I love taking science down from that lofty, unattainable place and making it accessible and fun for kids. It’s one of the most important jobs teachers have, and being able to help with that makes me really love what I do. What I saw and heard from Mrs. Broder’s 5th graders was that these students already saw science as part of their present, and their future. This isn’t something that can be taught in a few months, it’s something that every teacher in that school is clearly working to make a reality for each and every student. As a science professional, I want to say “Thank You” to Wake Forest Elementary for paving the way for our future generations to become not only great readers, writers, and mathematicians, but also great physicists, engineers, chemists, and biologists.

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