Science Fun


Posted On: 16 Feb

East Clayton Elementary School is our Spotlight School of the Week

East Clayton Elementary School is our Spotlight School of the Week

Laurel Park Elementary School

GRADE: 2nd
PROGRAM: Solids vs. Liquids
Scientist: Craig Kwiatkowski

Physics. What in an incredibly interesting science. Just thinking about the complexity of matter, molecules, and atoms gets me excited to share my knowledge with students. I was so glad the students at East Clayton Elementary School were up for learning more. As their glowing faces walked into the classroom, I knew they were ready to become scientists. Who am I kidding, they were already scientists! They were even wearing their own decorated lab coats.
As I started the program, I knew we were going to be able to go into the depths of physics. They impressed me with their knowledge of the main states of matter as well as the properties in distinguishing them from each other. One of my favorite experiments to show them is how we can melt metal in the classroom. I’ll admit, this isn’t your normal metal, but instead a metal called gallium. We are actually able to melt gallium at a very low temperature, showing the process of changing states of matter.

Since they were able to grasp the basics of physics, I knew it was time to get into more detail with THERMAL EXPANSION! This may sound a bit scary, but the students were amazed with the first demonstration. We put a balloon on top of a beaker and changed the temperature of the air. The result was the balloon inflated when the air inside was heated and shrunk as we cooled the air off. The students quickly realized that the molecules that made up the air were spreading out and getting close together depending on the temperature.

To further understand thermal expansion we used some unique materials to investigate what happens to water as it turns from a liquid to solid state. We came up with a hypothesis based on what we learned with the balloon. Interestingly enough, after we did the experiment, we figured out that water actually gets bigger as it turns from the liquid to solid state. This led to a discussion on whether or not it was acceptable for our hypothesis to be incorrect. I admitted to them that scientists are often wrong when making a hypothesis and that isn’t a bad thing, because it means we learned something.

As a cool surprise, I turned their fake ice into glow in the dark ice for them to take home. You can’t go wrong when you make things glow in the dark. To finish things off, we erupted a volcano as we talked about the reactions of the matter we were adding.

Thanks again East Clayton for making my Friday an awesome day. I hope you all continue to be the amazing scientists that you are and continue discovering the world around you.

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Posted On: 8 Feb

Laurel Park Elementary School is our Spotlight School of the Week

Laurel Park Elementary School is our Spotlight School of the Week

Laurel Park Elementary School

GRADE: 1st
PROGRAM: Astro Adventures
Scientist: Heather Fisher

1st Grade: Astro Adventures

Today at Laurel Park Elementary School, Ms. Markulic and Ms. Thompson’s first grade classes got to spend some time being astronomers and studying about the Earth, Moon, Sun, and stars in our “Astro Adventures” program! While we didn’t blast off into space, we did have a BLAST with all the experiments.

We learned that because the Earth moves around the Sun and the Moon moves around the Earth at the same time, the lit up part of the moon that is visible on Earth changes day to day. We took a look at all of the phases of the moon and I was impressed that the students already knew the name of each phase! Does anyone remember what happens when the earth comes between the moon and sun in the orbit? A lunar eclipse! We actually had a partial lunar eclipse just a few mornings ago, on January 31st. If you missed that one, put January 20th-21st 2019 on your calendar. We will be able to see a TOTAL lunar eclipse right around midnight. Hopefully you can convince your parents to let you stay up extra late so you can see the red moon! 🙂

After studying why we get day and night using an earth and sun model, we traveled outside our solar system to study the stars and constellations. Each student studied the shapes of 6 different constellations using glow in the dark paper, and then got to make a projector of his/her favorite one to take home. Now we can see the constellations every night without having to go out in the cold!

A lot of Ms. Markulic’s students told me they have their very own telescopes at home, so I hope they continue their astronomical studies with their families at home! Look for those constellations, look closer at the surface of the moon, or maybe even see if you can spy a planet! Today we were only able to launch rockets a few feet in the air (which was still AWESOME!), but maybe in the future, one of Ms. Markulic or Ms. Thompson’s students will become a REAL astronaut and be able to travel in a rocket all the way to space!

I had tons of fun with the students today, and we can’t wait to see the rest of the 1st graders at Laurel Park soon!

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Posted On: 1 Feb

Highcroft Elementary School is our Spotlight School of the Week

Highcroft Elementary School is our Spotlight School of the Week

Highcroft Elementary School

GRADE: 3rd
PROGRAM: Our Place In Space
Scientist: Cameron Gainey

3rd Grade: Our Place In Space

Hey there!

Do you know how many planets there are in our solar system? How about the number of moons that orbit the planet Jupiter? If you took a rocket ship to Neptune (my personal favorite planet), would you be able to land on its surface?

These are just some of the questions I posed to my Scientists this week as I taught Our Place In Space, a program that I’ve mentioned here before. It’s one of my favorites because, as its name implies, it allows me to paint the beautiful and immense picture of the tiny spot we occupy in our solar system, and the tiny spot that our solar system occupies in our galaxy–and the tiny spot this galaxy occupies among the billions of other galaxies! It’s amazing!!! Though this is a baffling concept even for me, an adult, the 3rd graders at Highcroft Elementary in Cary, NC, were incredibly curious:

What happens when you fall into a black hole? Is the sun ever going to blow up, and will we survive if it does? How do planets form? Does our solar system orbit in our galaxy, like the earth? Will we ever be able to land people on Mars? How big is the universe?

These are just a handful of the questions I received! Answering–or, in some cases, attempting to answer–these questions is thrilling, for their faces light up as I describe how one gets “spaghettified” when falling into a black hole, or how we’ll never know exactly how big the universe is because the speed of light only lets us see so far. They’re absolutely fascinated and totally wowed, and that’s inspiring for this Scientist. Since I was at Highcroft for three days in a row, I got to lead the entire 3rd grade class through this thought process. That makes for dozens of gasps and raised eyebrows!

Even though space is bigger than we can imagine, we also explored how it’s useful to us. For example, we get the length for our hour, day, month, and year from the orbits of the moon around the earth, and the earth around the sun. Additionally, we use the constellations in the sky for navigation, and observing these stars and their planets has helped us to understand our own place even better. We built a Sun Clock and a Constellation Map to remind of us these things, and to conclude the day we braved the cold and shot off water rockets to be like astronauts!

All in all, I enjoyed my adventures at Highcroft, and I can’t wait to return. Until next time!

– Scientist Cameron

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Posted On: 25 Jan

White Oak Elementary School is our Spotlight School of the Week

White Oak Elementary School is our Spotlight School of the Week

White Oak Elementary School

GRADE: 2nd
PROGRAM: Solids vs. Liquids
Scientist: Jennifer Sickles

2nd Grade: Solids vs. Liquids

We learned what “mattered” at White Oak Elementary School through “Solids vs. Liquids”. The students transformed into physicists for the day and learned that not only are there three states of matter (actually four, but for today’s purposes, we focused on three), but those three states of matter can undergo change. Gallium, a metal that has a melting point at 85 degrees Fahrenheit, can be changed from a solid to a liquid. This is done by adding heat to the Gallium. The students were “melting” in their seats when they saw the Gallium turn to liquid. We watched a balloon fill with air by adding heat. When the heat was added, the molecules began to spread out, causing the balloon to expand. Seeing the scientists grasp the understanding of this concept is so exciting!

The scientists then took on their own experiment and made science ice! This is more fun than regular ice because it cannot melt. The scientists used super absorbent crystals to make their science ice. Water had to be added to the super absorbent crystals with pipettes to make it become science ice. Then, it became “chilly” as the students experimented with ice fishing using ice, water, fishing poles and salt. They learned that when they add salt to the ice it begins to melt, then after a short period of time it refreezes. If the scientists lay their fishing poles on the ice and then add the salt, then the fishing pole will stick to the ice! How “cool” is that?

The second grade physicists had a “solid” understanding of matter by the time they were done with their experiments. It is always exciting to have a class who is thrilled about science and the students at White Oak were definitely just that. Although the students were anxiously awaiting the arrival of snow, they were still very engaged in all of the science experiments. I hope to visit the scientists at White Oak again very soon!

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Posted On: 18 Jan

The Franciscan School is our Spotlight of the Week

The Franciscan School is our Spotlight of the Week

The Franciscan School

GRADE: 2nd
PROGRAM: Sound Surprise
Scientist: Christine Martin

2nd Grade: Sound Surprise

Yesterday, I went to The Franciscan School to meet and teach some really enthusiastic second grade acoustic engineers. Acoustic engineers in second grade? That’s right, and they were “sound proof”. We experimented with tuning forks, molecule models, and sound activators. Oh my! Really? You “heard” right.

At Science Fun for Everyone! we are always striving to make our programs the best. Recently, we added in a new section to the “Sound Surprise” program. Now, we discuss and explore longitudinal waves. What are those? Sound travels in pulses, and these waves illustrate that pulsing beat. Before, we just discussed transverse waves. I didn’t quite “hear” you right, say that again? Transverse waves. Transverse waves look like the ocean’s waves and they are a tool that acoustic engineers use to visualize the sound. Wow, this is some heavy duty stuff!

Yesterday, was the first day for me to teach our new additions in the program. It’s a little nerve wracking the first time; even my “ears” began to tingle. Luckily, I was able to execute the new material without missing a “beat”. That’s a lot for a second grader, right? It is, so we used a slinky to help demonstrate and visualize what a longitudinal wave looks like. I had two volunteers stand at either end of a table, each holding one end of the slinky stretched out. One volunteer (A) kept the slinky still, while the other (B) pushed or “pulsed” the slinky in the direction towards volunteer A. We were able to see the pulse go all the way from one end to the other and then back again. Hmmm….I wonder what the back motion could represent. What’s a sound that bounces or repeats called? I don’t know. I don’t’ know. I don’t know. Wait a minute…I got it! An echo!

Speaking of echoes, I hope I can repeat this awesome experience the next time I teach at the Franciscan School!

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Posted On: 21 Dec

Duke University Hospital, Pediatrics is our Spotlight of the Week

HOSPITAL: Duke University Hospital, Pediatrics is our Spotlight of the Week

Duke University Hospital, Pediatrics

GRADE: Pediatrics
PROGRAM: Winter Weather
Scientist: Cameron Gainey

Pediatrics – Winter Weather

Hey there!

This week, I have a different story to tell…

It was just passed 3:00 pm on Monday, December 11th. I only had to circle the familiar parking deck for a few minutes before sliding into a spot just big enough for my car. I caught myself saying, “Yes!” under my breath–I’d avoided 8 more levels of circling! A draft of chilly December air surrounded me as I pulled my program from the trunk. It was the lightest load I’ve ever had, at one half-full bin and a small ice bucket! But that’s all I would need, because today was special: I wasn’t doing a program for 20 or 30 kids, and I wasn’t even at an elementary school; in fact, it was likely that there would be fewer than 10…

I rode the elevator down to the tunnel that would take me under the road. (A scientist never waits at a crosswalk if he can avoid it! Plus, the tunnel used to be a tram system–how cool is that?) The curving corridor lead me to a semicircle of five elevators; I took the second on the left, and after that brief rollercoaster moment in my stomach, I emerged on the fifth floor of Duke University Hospital, Pediatrics.

After my hand-washing and shoe cover-donning routine, I found Scientist Jen already in the room waiting for me. We were really excited to meet with the kids in the Pediatric Blood & Marrow Transplant Center today, because our experiments were all Winter themed! We were joined shortly by our Junior Scientists, three middle school-aged girls who Scientist Jen and I recognized from other programs. We started off with ice fishing, for which we used a reaction between salt and ice to pick up ice cubes–one Scientist picked up her whole tray of ice! Next we each endeavored to create hail in a jar, using hydrogen citrate, sodium bicarbonate, dihydrogen monoxide, and–the most important ingredient–pasta! And lastly we used sodium polyacrylate, a type of super absorbent powder, to create some squishy, synthetic snow!

It was snow fun to experiment with these kids. (Sorry, I had to!) Since there were only three today, we could do each experiment many times, and we were able to answer every question they asked. After an hour they returned to their rooms with stickers in their event passports and bags of extra experiments they could do later, and we journeyed back through the tunnel to our cars, ready to return in the new year! Though our bimonthly programs are just a small part of the events organized for these kids, we’re always so happy to see them leaving with smiles on their faces every time!

Until next time,

– Scientist Cameron

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Posted On: 14 Dec

Princeton Elementary School is our Spotlight School of the Week

SCHOOL: Princeton Elementary

Princeton Elementary School

GRADE: Kindergarten
PROGRAM: Animal Detectives
Scientist: Amber Oliver

Kindergarten – Animal Detectives

I always have loved teaching at the rural schools in North Carolina. Princeton Elementary is by far the nicest and most friendly school that I have visited this year. As soon as I entered the doors I was greeted by the most friendliest staff, including the school Receptionist “Princess” who was very stylish to say the least. I enjoyed speaking with them about my science background and about how much the children meant to me. I also enjoyed making the science lab (room 318) my temporary home away from home and the custodial staff came in frequently to make sure that I had everything I needed to be successful.

I have never experienced a more enthusiastic group of students, but more impressively an exceptionally interested group of educators. Each teacher was more than happy to help pass things out, participate in the activities, and even willing to touch the animals. I have always believed that there is a difference between a teacher and an educator and Princeton Elementary Kindergarten Educators are simply the best. I hope I get to see them again soon.

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Posted On: 7 Dec

Fox Road Magnet Elementary School is our Spotlight School of the Week

SCHOOL: Fox Road Magnet Elementary

Fox Road Magnet Elementary School

GRADE: 3rd
PROGRAM: Skin N Bones
Scientist: Maddie O’Beirne

3rd Grade – Skin N Bones

Hello everyone! My name is scientist Maddie. This past Wednesday, I had the privilege of going to Fox Road Elementary. I had never been to this school before, but I was greeted by very friendly office staff who seemed really excited to see me! They showed me exactly how to get to my classroom. The program I taught on Wednesday was Skin N Bones, where the 3rd grade junior scientists get to be physiologists for the day and study the human body. All 4 classes that I had were phenomenal because they had never seen a scientist from Science Fun For Everyone before! I felt the pressure to show them a good time, and they had a really great time. Between spreading “germs” through glow powder, testing our reflexes with reflex hammers, to looking at real organs and bones, the scientists had a lot of fun. I would have to say Fox Road was the first school where every scientist LOVED holding the animal organs and bones. I tend to get a few scientists that are grossed out, but this group of 3rd graders were so brave. Probably a lot more brave than I was at that age. All four groups of 3rd grade scientists asked amazing questions that even stumped me at times, and we all learned that the skin is the largest human organ! We finished our in-school field trip by making a fully labeled skull puppet the scientists got to take home with them. Also, the teachers who came in each class were helpful and participated in all of the experiments. This helps the students stay engaged and interested in the topic we are talking about, which makes our job a lot more fun. Thank you to all the teachers that made our time learning about the different systems of the human body so much fun! I’ll be sure to look forward to seeing those same scientists again in the near future. Thank you for a great experience Fox Road, and I can’t wait to be back again. Lastly, there was a very cute red-eared slider turtle in the front office that I made friends with. I think his name was Tommy, but we only met briefly. I guess I will just have to go back again to see him and our other scientist friends at Fox Road Magnet Elementary!

-Scientist Maddie

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Posted On: 1 Dec

Joyner Elementary School is our Spotlight School of the Week

SCHOOL: Joyner Elementary School

Joyner Elementary School

GRADE: 2nd Grade
PROGRAM: Weather Wise
Scientist: Max Fry

2nd Grade: Weather Wise

On November 14th I visited the 2nd graders at Joyner Elementary. I was excited to show them the Weather Wise program and was confident that they would enjoy it. I had previously taught Weather Wise multiple times and the students always loved all the different activities the program provided for them. At Joyner, the 2nd grade is housed in the portables, so I quickly made my way through the school and across the blacktop to meet my first class. Even though it was early on a Monday morning, the students were excited right when I walked in the room! Many of them had already participated in Science Fun For Everyone! programs and remembered how enjoyable they were last time. I began the Weather Wise lesson and was pleasantly surprised by how much the students already knew about different aspects of the weather, and I was looking forward to teaching these junior meteorologists even more! We made lightning with the plasma ball (always a fan favorite) and each student successfully made their own weather station. The plaster for the weather stations is sometimes tricky so I was happy everything was going smoothly. Next, we made models of hailstorms and then the students were able to participate in multiple stations that included “tornado tubes”, rain gauges, suction cups, and wind bags. Everyone was having fun and also learning a lot about varied weather topics! Time for the lesson was running out but we had just enough for the grand finale… Fog Rings! Using a fog machine and a modified trash can, I was able to shoot rings of fog across the classroom, to the delight of the students. But just as I was loading up the trash can to make a few final rings, the fire alarm went off! We quickly exited the portable and lined up on the black top. I had used the fog machine many times without ever setting off alarms, so I wondered if it was just a crazy coincidence that the alarm had gone off when I started making fog. This question was answered when I realized the alarm was only coming from the portables I was in and when the firemen showed up! It was not a drill and no crazy coincidence! Apparently, the portable had a very sensitive smoke detector that fog would even set off. Thankfully neither the firemen or the teachers were too upset by the alarm going off and I was just nicely asked to not use the fog machine anymore. The rest of the classes were completed with no problems, but unfortunately the students had to miss out on the fog machine. I have since taught Weather Wise at other schools and used the fog machine without any alarms, but now I will always be wary after that one Monday at Joyner when the fog caused an impromptu fire drill!

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Posted On: 16 Nov

Hodge Road Elementary School is our Spotlight School of the Week

SCHOOL: Hodge Road Elementary School

Hodge Road Elementary School

GRADE: 4th Grade
PROGRAM: Can You Dig It?
Scientist: Karla Johnson

4th Grade: Can You Dig It?

Yesterday, I went cave mining with the fourth grade classes of Hodge Road Elementary! I was absolutely thrilled to see their faces light up as I walked into the room. These faces were just as excited as I was because we were about to become geologists for a day. We started by imagining we had a warm melty chocolate chip cookie; when it got closer to lunchtime I could tell this analogy was really getting some scientist hungry! I explained how the chocolate chips would be a lot like the minerals in a rock, and the cookie would be the rock. I saw all the scientists’ brains turning and I even had a few scientists make another analogy that involved food! (I was super excited because I love food!) After we learned about the difference between a rock and a mineral we started talking about the three different types of rocks and how they are formed; the scientist already knew so much about the topic that we moved deep into the layers of the Earth! We all thought it was amazing how hot each layer is, and I got some really good questions about the different plates that make up the Earth’s crust. I was so happy to see scientist with such an interest in our Earth!

Finally, we did our own excavation and we could all barely contain our excitement as we assembled our head lamps and gathered all of our geologist tools. As we turned out the lights and began our excavation, I heard shrill screams of excitement and scientist exclaiming “ I found gold!” We found so many good minerals that one scientist even told me this was the best field trip ever! I’d say it was a pretty good one for not even leaving the classroom! Then we even got to figure out which rocks the scientist got by testing them out with tests that geologist in the field use! I had so much fun that I can’t wait to visit the scientists of Hodge Road Elementary again!

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