Science Fun


Posted On: 7 Feb

Oak Grove Elementary is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Oak Grove Elementary


GRADE: 4th
PROGRAM: Can You Dig It?
Scientist: Davis

Last week, I had the joy of teaching Can You Dig it to Oak Grove Elementary’s 4th grade students.

This was a really fun day. It was a half day for me, which meant I taught two sessions that day and then spent the rest of the day in the office coming up with plans and experiments for our up coming camps. That’s the best kind of day there is. When teaching a half day, your mentality changes. You’re energy is high because you know you’re spreading a full day’s worth of excitement and and enthusiasm over a half the day. It’s the difference between a half marathon and a full marathon (I assume, I’ve never run more than a 10k). It’s a lot of energy either way, but you can use more of your reserves.

Anyway, I was excited to be teaching a half day, but I was doubly excited to be teaching Can You Dig It?. As you might guess, Can You Dig It (or CYDI, as none of us call it, but I will for the rest of this blog post, ’cause it’s easier to type) is a Geology themed program. We talk about the basics of rock and minerals: What makes a mineral a mineral, what are the three basic categories of rock, etc. Like many kids I was super into rocks when I was growing up. I would scour every Camp site, Hiking Trail, Parking lot (Gravel or otherwise) for “cool” rocks that I could add to my collection.

I was not discerning.

On a recent trip back to my parents house I happened on my old rock collection. I kept it in an old wooden Cheerwine bottle rack which my mom had found for me at a flea market. I had the rack set up on it’s side so as to display all of my incredible finds.It turns out these incredible finds consisted of some five or six dozen granite specimens clearly found in our driveway, twenty or so river rocks which I guess looked cool when freshly pulled from the creek where I found them, but now were all a uniformly dull gray, and a hand full of what I’d have to guess were colored pebbles leftover from the fishbowl of a goldfish I’d won during a fall festival cakewalk. A well curated scientific classified collection this was not.

But man, I loved those rocks! And they were junk! I WISH I had had the opportunity to do something like my friends at Oak Grove did in CYDI?. They each got their own excavation site and a chisel to dig with. They got to wear safety goggles, and headlamps. They got the full experience! AND, on top of all of that, the stuff they found was actually COOL! Many of them found over 12 different specimens, all of which they could classify AND run tests on. Like I said: The full experience!

Watching nearly 50 students over the course of nearly 3 hours uncover and discover all these new rocks and minerals, and knowing that many of them would be going home to place them in their own Cheerwine crate (or special drawer, or secret hiding spot) at home brought back the sense of excitement I would feel every time I found a new rock in some new unexpected space. It made me feel genuinely warm and inspired.

AND it was a half day!

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Posted On: 7 Feb

Morrisville Elementary is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Morrisville Elementary


GRADE: 1st
PROGRAM: Soil Rocks
Scientist: Craig

As the week started winding down, I was excited make my final visit of the week at Morrisville Elementary School doing one of my favorite programs, Soil Rocks. I was thrilled to see a few familiar faces of students who have attended our camps. Shout out to Ella Kate and Owen!

We set up our mobile cave in a dark room near the library. The students walked very wide eyed with several questions on what we were going to do today. I was even welcomed with high fives from one class. Our program started with a discussion on soil and why its so important for scientists to study it. The students had already learned so much and I was amazed at their knowledge about plants providing us oxygen as well as their ideas on composting. I think the future is in good hands.

During our experimenting on soil, we were able to observe and sort different items that make up our soil. The students even found a few worms crawling around. After a quick discussion about worms not being able to bite, scratch, or lick you in the face, the screams quickly turned into aww’s. Here at Science Fun, we try to develop brave scientists one worm at a time.

After soil came my favorite part: excavating rocks in the cave. The junior scientists got mining pans and headlamps as tools to excavate some rocks ad minerals. It’s awesome seeing their faces and hearing their comments about, “looking like real scientists now” as the put on the headlamps. We quickly geared up and started our search. The junior scientists could hardly contain their excitement with some of the things they found.

Finally, after our search we did a few field tests on our rocks to test for magnetism. If you ask my last class though, it was called a Field Floppy Pants! They didn’t like the word test, so we switched it out with something a little more hilarious.

Overall, I had an awesome end to the workweek and hope to see them again.

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Posted On: 31 Jan

Carpenter Elementary is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Carpenter Elementary

Spotlight School-carpenter

GRADE: 2nd and 5th
PROGRAM: Newton’s Lab and Sound Surprise
Scientist: Christine

At our lab, we have a term called a crazy day. That’s when we teach two different programs at the same school. The reason we call it a crazy day is because we have not only load up one, but two programs into our compact cars, but we also have to mentally prepare for two different grade levels, and two sets of information. Well, today I had a crazy day at Carpenter Elementary. Actually, all of that went off without a hitch today. Everything nicely fit into my Toyota Corolla, and I was able to easily transition from 5th grade physics to 2nd grade sound. However, it was still a crazy day.

You want to know why? Was it the kids? Oh no, the kids were great! The 5th graders were very engaged in catapulting different masses across the room and the 2nd graders were also memorized by water splashes using tuning forks. Was it the teachers? Oh no, the teachers were fantastic. So warm and inviting. Getting involved with the kids learning. For example, Mr. Sullivan has already created a lesson plan that went hand in hand our Action Reaction Cars. He plans to start that lesson tomorrow.

What was it then? Without going into too much detail, one of the students I saw today ended up needing extra medical attention during my lesson. Just to be clear, this was from a pre diagnosed medical condition, not something caused by SFFE. Again, without going into detail, it was quick and alarming. However, the teachers and I reacted quickly. I took the other twenty students into the hall to continue my lesson, while the teacher and teacher assistant aided to the child. The amazing thing was how so many administrators, school nurse, and teachers ran to the rescue for the care of this child. They really worked as a team, and I tried to do my part as well by keeping the other twenty students in a positive and safe environment. Eventually, we moved the lesson to outside, which the junior scientists loved. It was a nice change than teaching in the classroom. Even though there was a bump in the day, the school did a great job of coming together and reacting quickly. Just to let you know, the child is doing fine.

And that was my crazy day.

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Posted On: 18 Jan

Lead Mine Elementary is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Lead Mine Elementary


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

What a week! I knew things were going to be different when, late last Friday, it began to snow! This was going to be the first snow of the winter, and I was very excited. I went to sleep and woke to find that everything was white! After sliding around on icy sidewalks and a brief snowball fight with my wife, I began to wonder how the storm would affect the schools . . .

As it turned out, to the great delight of students everywhere, WCPSS closed schools, starting on Monday. I myself was dismayed because I was worried that I might not get to teach my favorite program, A Matter of Science, on Thursday. In that program, the kids get to experiment with the states of matter by making (and eating!) their very own ice cream, combining chemicals to make plastic bags blow up and pop, and stirring up their own disappearing ink for devious pranks. (I sincerely apologize if I’ve been responsible for any stained-clothing scares. But I warned the kids to tell you it would disappear! Anyway, moving on…)

When I checked the forecast for the week, however, I saw that temperatures were on their way back up, and my worry evaporated just like the snow and ice. On Thursday, the first day back for WCPSS after the snow, I rolled up to Lead Mine Elementary with my favorite program and quickly set up. Throughout each of the four programs that I taught, the students were wonderfully attentive and engaged. The teachers were even surprised at the quality of the ice cream we made!

Perhaps my fondest memory involved one particular bag-popping experiment. Naturally, I didn’t tell my junior scientists exactly what was going to happen when I threw the packet of sodium bicarbonate (or baking soda) into the chemical-filled bags. (I couldn’t ruin the surprise, now could I?) At a certain table, several of the students had become distracted with asking me some questions. I tossed their packet into the bag and sealed it. A few of their classmates saw that the gas from the reaction was beginning to quickly fill the bag, but before the chatting scientists knew what was coming, the bag broke with a loud pop! They screamed in fear and excitement (much more excitement than fear, I promise) and lost interest in their questions. They then watched closely as the three remaining bags filled up and cheered when they exploded.

All in all, it was a great day. The kids had a blast, I had a blast, and the teachers had a blast. Indeed, there were a great many blasts had that day. I can’t wait to teach A Matter of Science to more eager scientists. Maybe I’ll be at your school this time!

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Posted On: 8 Jan

Schools are closed, Science Camp is open!

snow-day-campWhat a crazy couple of days! We hope everyone enjoyed some down time and safe sledding!

Now that we’re back to the week…if you are looking for something FUN for your junior scientist, then we’ll have all sorts of experiments going on at The Lab!

Sign Up Here

Register soon if you are interested because space is limited. Once we’re full, we’re full. As much as we would love to accommodate all of your enthusiastic experimenters, we only have so much room!

Hours & pricing for our single day camp:
Full Day: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm – $79
1/2 Day (AM): 9:30 am – 12:30 pm – $49
1/2 Day (PM): 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm – $49

In order to allow time for the roads to thaw, and our staff to commute safely, we will not be offering before care for today’s single day camp.

  • We will provide a morning and afternoon science snack.
  • Please send your camper with a non-refrigerated, peanut free lunch.
  • Pizza and a juice are available for $5

Please no drop-ins. Registration must be completed online before coming to ensure we have room

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Posted On: 21 Dec

Magellan Charter is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Magellan Charter


GRADE: 3rd
PROGRAM: Motion Commotion
Scientist: Aaron

This week, I had the opportunity to travel to Magellan Charter School and work with the third graders there on a program called “Motion Commotion.” This program is all about Physics and making sense out of how and why things move. The students had not yet started their Force and Motion unit, so this was sure to be a fun first step!

I described this program as their introduction to the Force and Motion unit, and instead of getting worried or confused looks, I got eyes full of excitement and curiosity. They were so enthusiastic to learn about the Laws of Motion that they use every day. These Junior Physicists were ready to learn through conducting their own experiments!

This program is heavily lab-based so that the children get a chance to freely explore and learn with various force, motion, gravity, and friction experiments. As I circled the room watching them try all the items I brought for them, I realized their excitement was contagious. I was having a ball with my little Physicists! Not only were they having a blast with the activities, but they were also mastering scientific concepts without even knowing it. They were constantly making new discoveries with the experiments and asking very thought-provoking questions, as all scientists must do.

Experimenting with the third graders at Magellan Charter was such a fun time. Seeing their excitement for new knowledge and their enthusiasm to listen and learn was the best way I could have spent my Tuesday. Thank you to the students and staff that made my day so enjoyable!

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Posted On: 15 Dec

Boone Trail Elementary is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Boone Trail Elementary


GRADE: 2nd
PROGRAM: Weather Wise
Scientist: Cameron

This week was quite a rollercoaster! Even as a new Scientist, I’ve had tons of great experiences with the kids throughout every grade level. No matter how far I’ve gone—be it Fayetteville or Hillsborough, Garner or Durham—I have found Junior Scientists excited to learn about our world. But, like a tricky experiment, some days just don’t seem to go your way…

On Wednesday, I journeyed to Boone Trail Elementary, near Lillington, NC, to teach “Weather Wise,” an awesome program in which students get to touch lightning, create tornadoes, and get blasted with real clouds! Even with such a thrilling program to look forward to, everything seemed against me! I was freezing cold, my windshield wouldn’t defog, I was losing my voice, my GPS was confusing—I just couldn’t catch a break! When I arrived, however, things immediately started to improve.

The kids were excellent listeners, and they asked so many great questions. As we started building their take-home experiment—a three-part Weather Station—I could see their excitement growing. When we began to discuss and test out some instruments used by Meteorologists, such as Barometers and Wind Bags, they were totally loving it! After they saw the Cloud Blaster and got some air to the face, they didn’t want the program to end! My day was transforming in all the right ways because of these amazing students. One of them even complimented my hair. And here I was thinking I needed to get it cut!

At the very end of the program—when my Meteorologists had gathered their Weather Stations and were quietly chatting about the experiments we’d performed—one second grader made my day: as they left the room, he said, “I want to grow up to be just like you.” Wow! That was so special. My biggest goal is to let every kid know that she can be a scientist if she wants to, so it’s just awesome that one of them would come away from the program wanting to be a scientist like me. Teaching science brings me great joy, and seeing my students engaged and excited makes it even better. I look forward to my next classes!

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Posted On: 7 Dec

Lacy Elementary is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Lacy Elementary


GRADE: 5th
PROGRAM: Storm Chasers
Scientist: Niko

I had a day to remember teaching “Storm Chasers” to the fifth graders of Lacy Elementary School. Storm Chasers, is a really fun program learning about lightning, clouds, air pressure, anemometers, thermometers and many other very cool tools meteorologist use. I really enjoy teaching this program because the very first experiment is using a Tesla Coil, which produces little lightning bolts in the classroom! After attaching a plasma ball lightbulb to the Tesla Coil, the kids get a chance to touch and feel the real electricity! It doesn’t hurt the kids but they are always “shocked” when it is their turn to step up and experience it. This always gets the program started with a lot of excitement and fun.
While teaching one class, I had a big distraction that I’ve never had to deal with before. It all started when the kids starting pouring into the classroom…

They were all really excited and trying to find a place to sit that was near all their buddies. As soon as the teacher came into the room, she asked one student to “go over there and sit by Nikolai”. This caught my ear because my full name is Nikolai, and as you can imagine it’s pretty rare for me to meet another one. At first I shrugged it off thinking I miss heard the name and it couldn’t be what I thought it was. A little time passed and I had the class in two groups doing some free exploration experiments. The two groups were experimenting with different tools that meteorologist use to measure a variety of weather events. I was helping out a group of students who were using pipets to fill a rain gauge with water, when again I heard someone say “Nikolai”! In the classroom the kids call me Scientist Niko and so when I heard my full name I quickly looked around for someone who may know me outside of the classroom. The last time I heard my full name in a classroom it was a teacher who was good friends with me and my wife in college. So I was expecting to look up and see someone I knew. After I noticed there was nobody in the classroom that knew my full name, I did a little investigation. I was walking around the classroom trying to find the kid that I share a name with. I finally found him experimenting with an anemometer and I told him we had the same name. I was expecting a big reaction because it is such a rare name, and he was only the third Nikolai I have ever met. I was thinking maybe I am the first person he’s ever met that shares his name? To my surprise, he just looked at me, said “cool”, and walked away. I’m not going to lie, that was the biggest diss a fifth grader has ever given me. haha!

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Posted On: 22 Nov

Cedar Fork is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Cedar Fork Elementary


PROGRAM: Funky Forces
Scientist: Ian

This past week, I spent two full days with seven amazing classes at Cedar Fork Elementary School teaching our Funky Forces program. This awesome physics program exposes kids to science they’ve learned about in class or experienced in real-life, like gravity and magnets, but never really had the chance to experiment with as much as they might like.

We start with a few minutes of discussion about force and gravity, but it always picks up when I bring out the first experiment we do as a group. As a class, we come up with a hypothesis for what will happen when I place a ping-pong ball over a hairdryer and turn it on. Whether they guess right or wrong, it’s always a chorus of “oohs” and “aahs” every time the ping-pong ball levitates in the air, even as you turn the hairdryer further and further to the side until it seems almost impossible!

My favorite part of the program is the magnet lab, though. As we get older, we start to take magnets for granted.They’re just things we stick on our fridge to hold up to-do lists, or ways to stick bumper stickers on our cars. But every time I teach this program, I get to watch a whole new group of kids experiment with this crazy, invisible force all over again! I always give students enough direction to know how they work and what they can do, but it’s always so cool to watch them make these magnets move, flip, and stick to other objects.

The smiles on kid’s faces when they discover that they can move a magnet on top of their desk with a magnet below it is priceless! Even with the full understanding that they are causing that magnet to move, there’s always something just short of magical to see an inanimate object moving apparently all on its own. Even at almost five times their age, I can never get over how wild it really seems.

This program is such a great experience because it takes mundane ideas and objects that are part of everyday life (like gravity and wind and magnets) and shows them just how amazing they can be when used scientifically. And that’s really what science is: finding the amazing in the ordinary! After this program, kids went home with a new appreciation for how the world works and a new interest in figuring out even more of it for themselves.

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Posted On: 22 Nov

Thales Academy is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Thales Academy

GRADE LEVEL: 3rd Gradespotlight-school-thales
PROGRAM: A Matter of Science
Scientist: Heather Fisher

I taught A LOT of “A Matter of Science” last week, but my favorite day was Halloween at Hogwarts. I mean Thales Academy in Apex, of course! I always love going into the schools on the silliest holiday of the year and seeing all of the students dressed up in their costumes, and boy were there a lot of wizards this year! Scientist Kristin joined me for the morning, and naturally, we were both dressed as scientists!

“A Matter of Science” seemed extra appropriate for Halloween, as sometimes phase changes can seem almost like magic, but it’s all about those molecules! I’m sure by the end of the day, full of candy and sugar, everyone was acting like gas molecules, running around with lots of energy! (I’m also sure parents and teachers were happy when their energy levels got closer to sleepy, still, solid molecules!) We mixed chemicals to create a gas that resulted in some (very safe) explosions and then concocted a bright pink potion that DISAPPEARED before our eyes! And while we didn’t bring in any candy, we did get to change some chocolate milk into chocolate ice cream to enjoy at the end. It was Halloween after all, and I knew everyone needed a little extra sugar!

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