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Posted On: 14 Mar

Magellan Charter is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Magellan Charter

GRADE LEVEL: 3rdSpotlight-School-magellan
PROGRAM: Motion Commotion
INSTRUCTOR: Heather Fisher
Scientist Heather’s Experience:

On Wednesday the third graders at Magellan Charter School were pulled into our force and motion program, Motion Commotion! It was the first time we have had the privilege of visiting Magellan Charter School and I could tell how excited the staff, parents, and students were as soon as I walked in the door!

We started off talking all about the very first physicist, Issac Newton, and how he discovered gravity over 300 years ago. We also went over Newton’s 3 laws of motion, what they mean, and how we see them in action every day. We got a close look at gravity and Newton’s 3rd law (my personal favorite to experiment with!) as we tried to catch falling checkers and shot different kinds of rockets all over the room!

Since we were studying how objects move on Earth, it also seemed important to take a close look at friction! We tested how different surfaces have different amounts of friction and discovered that when there is more friction it gets much harder to move an object and it does not move as fast! We also saw that friction produces heat, and used that fact to draw some colorful designs on special heat sensitive paper. Each student even got to make his/her own friction tube, where they could move a marble through a tube of sand just using what they had learned about friction. I’m curious whether their parents and siblings figured out the trick or if the newest third grade physicists still have them stumped!

I had such a fun day at Magellan Charter, and I hope to be back soon!

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Posted On: 10 Mar

E.E. Miller Elementary is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: E.E. Miller Elementary

GRADE LEVEL: 1steemiller
PROGRAM: Living Lab
INSTRUCTOR: Gabi Goszczynska
Scientist Gabi’s Experience:

As I placed a tiny turtle, red claw scorpion, bearded dragon and a bunch of millepedes onto my cart Tuesday morning, I thought to myself “my job is pretty darn cool.” By the looks on their faces, the first graders at E.E. Miller Elementary seemed to think so too. Their excitement for science was infectious and made the Living Lab program a joy to teach.

E.E. Miller Elementary in Fayetteville is a vibrant school that has its walls covered in hand-painted art and posters of inspirational leaders both of which reflect the diversity of the student population. I specifically noticed a poster dedicated to Columbian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, one of my favorite writers! In my last class of the day, it was a pleasant surprise to hear all the children speaking fluent Spanish with their teachers, a language I have yet to master. This was an impressive bunch of first graders!

In each class, the the kids came in, quiet yet excited. They loved seeing Lily, the turtle, and they made sure to stay calm so we wouldn’t scare her. I enjoyed teaching the kids about how animals, just like us, only truly need a few essential things to survive. Animals are not that different from us, after all! The program flew by with the kids dissecting owl pellets, practicing recycling, spinning the radiometer, and building their take-home habitat.

My favorite moment of the day came when I was with a few kids and we were waiting for the rest of the class to join us. While we were waiting, I asked the first graders what their favorite animals were. On their lists were cheetahs, koalas, whales, giraffes, gorillas and lions. Oh my, what a wild bunch! It was great to hear their fun facts about these creatures of the earth. You could see their love of animals wide across their grins! That’s probably why their favorite part of the day was petting the bearded dragon.

As I rolled my cart through the parking lot at the end of the day, I saw a glowing first grader leaving school with his habitat in hand explaining excitedly to their parents how he “now had a pet worm! And seeds! And it’s name is Springy! Because it’s so warm outside! And science is super-duper cool!”

Okay, maybe I imagined that very last part, but I could tell he was definitely thinking it in his head! Another successful and satisfying day at E.E. Miller Elementary school.

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Posted On: 3 Mar

E.K. Powe Elementary is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: E.K. Powe Elementary

GRADE LEVEL: 1stSpotlight-School-ekpowe
PROGRAM: Soil Rocks!
INSTRUCTOR: Davis Tate
Scientist Davis’ Experience:

Today I was at EK Powe Elementary teaching a program called Soil Rocks. We spend the first half of the program talking about soil and its importance. We talk about how soil provides us with plants, which in turn provide us with practically everything we need to live.

One of my favorite parts of each of my classes today was explaining how plants give us oxygen. I explained that plants breathe carbon dioxide which is the same gas that we exhale, which means that plants breathe human breath! This always gets a fun reaction out of the students, but was especially pronounced with my students today. Which is why the next part was so much fun. I explained to the students that when plants breathe our breath, they take it in and transform it into oxygen, which they then breathe out. Most of the students already knew that humans breathe oxygen, but they had never considered that since oxygen comes from plants, that means that we are breathing plant breath!

This revelation was so funny to my classes that one of group even started waving to the trees outside and thanking them for their breath!

One of the joys of this job is seeing students grasp concepts in new ways, and breathing tree breath is such an excellent example of this. When I asked my classes why plants were important, the fact that they provide us with oxygen is one of the very first things mentioned, but by twisting this idea, they have a whole new way of conceptualizing something they already knew, further implanting it in their minds.

Today was my first time at E. K. Powe Elementary, but after my experience today, I hope to return many times in the future!

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Posted On: 24 Feb

Baucom Elementary is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Baucom Elementary

GRADE LEVEL: 3rdSpotlight-School-baucom
PROGRAM: Plant Power
INSTRUCTOR: Christine Martin
Scientist Christine’s Experience:

Our minds grew today while experiencing and experimenting with “Plant Power” at Baucom Elementary. The third graders weren’t the only ones to seem to have a growth spurt today because the grass we grew appears to have the right beginnings to something extraordinary. Why are the grass seeds off to a fresh start? Well, that’s because we made sure to start the grass seeds out with the four things that all plants need to survive: water, sunlight, space, and air (carbon dioxide that is). The budding botanist used pipettes to give the plant water. Check! We discussed how when they arrived at home to put the grass in a sunny area, like a windowsill, to get the energy that they need to so the grass can start making its own food. Check! We used a cup that we transformed into a “Plant Pal” using sticker eyes and nose to be the plant’s space. Check! Lastly, we discussed the importance of the grass getting the carbon dioxide that it needs to survive. That’s one of the great thing about plants that they give us the oxygen that we need, and we give them the carbon dioxide that they need. Check! In four or five days those grass seeds should start to germinate. Hooray!

The third grade botanist were so engaged it seemed like they had planted roots in their seats. It’s great seeing classes throughout the days who are very involved with the program. Like asking questions, answering questions, and really being invested in the experiments. That’s what I saw from my classes at Baucom Elementary. One example of proof was that I was feeling like a sick lemon that day. What do you give sick lemon? Lemon-aid. Haha! And that’s exactly what these classes did for me. Even though I felt a little under the weather, the botanist made me feel like a rose stretching for the sun. Thanks botanist for making what seemed like a gloomy day into a bright one!

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Posted On: 12 Feb

Wake Forest Elementary is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Wake Forest Elementary

GRADE LEVEL: 3rdSpotlight-School-wake-forest
PROGRAM: Our Place in Space
INSTRUCTOR: Craig Kwiatkowski
Scientist Craig’s Experience:

With the excitement of the Super Bowl behind us, it was on to another exciting week teaching in the schools. It seemed some of the kids were a little down with a Panthers loss, but I was determined to brighten their spirits with a little science.

It has been a long time since I had visited the third graders at Wake Forest Elementary, so I was very excited to be stopping by to teach them all about space. For most of the students, it was their first time seeing one of our programs and I wanted to make sure I made an amazing first impression.

As I approached the classroom, I could hear the excitement and chattering about the scientist that was coming. After walking in, I was approached with many questions about what experiments they would be doing, what they would be learning, and who I was. As always, I responded that it would all be answered very soon and I told them to be very observant and they might even be able to figure out some of the answers on their own.

We started our program on space and naturally, the students have a lot of questions. I even had a student ask me about the aging process if we were to travel at the speed of light! So we had a small discussion about Einstein and his theory of relativity to further understand the concept. Then, we demonstrated how the sun, Earth, and moon interact with each other in space and how the orbits affect our life here on Earth. It was pretty amusing seeing the kids move around each other acting as the sun, Earth, and moon.

In our programs the students always take an experiment home, and lucky for them, they get to take two things today. They created their own constellation pages that represent some common types of constellations that we see in the sky. Their final product even glowed in the dark. The big take home was demonstrating how the earth’s spinning movement creates a change in the position of the shadows throughout the day. Each student created their own working sundial that they could take home and test out on their own.

We concluded our program by braving the cold elements and launching off some water rockets. I think the students quickly forgot about the cold as they saw their rockets launch high into the air. This is always one of their favorite and most memorable experiments during the program. After four sessions of water rockets outside, I think my hands needed to thaw out a bit, but the smiles on their face made it all worth it!

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Posted On: 3 Feb

Reedy Creek Elementary is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Reedy Creek Elementary

GRADE LEVEL: 3rdreedy-creek-Spotlight-School
PROGRAM: A Matter of Science
INSTRUCTOR: Blake Steiner
Scientist Blake’s Experience:

I couldn’t be happier with the way my day turned out at Reedy Creek Elementary. Today I taught our physics program called Matter of Science, which as far as I know is one of the most time sensitive programs that we teach at Science Fun For Everyone – you have to be on your A game to make sure the kids have enough time to enjoy each activity and experiment. Fortunately, all I had to do was explain this to them and they understood perfectly. The more you pay attention and follow instructions, the more time we have for ice cream, explosions, and magic tricks!
I knew it was going to be a good day though as soon as I arrived. All the teachers were very accommodating, helpful, and interested in what we were going to be learning that day. They joined in to help and talk with the kids as they went through the experiments, and I suspect they get a special kick out of some of the kids’ reactions, just like I do. For instance, when I turned the Disappearing Ink clear and then back to the dark blue color (and then back again!), one girl couldn’t help but shout ‘Now I love science! Right now, I just decided!’ I quipped back, ‘Okay, moments like that are why I came here today’. And that’s the truth! Nothing beats hearing the children’s amazement and surprise at some of the things we do. I try to take special care to make each lesson memorable in some way, whether with humor or suspense or something like that, because I certainly still remember the special enrichment programs we did at my school when I was that young. That sort of stuff sticks with you.

At the end of my last class – after taking cover from exploding bags of expanding gas, polishing off the last of the ice cream, and my obligatory sermon about the proper way to prank someone with disappearing ink – it was a real pleasure to wave goodbye to a whole smiling class who was genuinely delighted with my coming to pay them a visit that day. I left amid shouts of “I love science, thank you thank you thank you, I’m going to be a scientist when I grow up!” etc., which are things I’m lucky enough to hear on a regular basis. As usual, one or two kids scrambled to hold the door for me, and walking down the hallway, I heard kids whispering ‘There goes the science man, oh look a real scientist!’ It makes me smile every single time. You’re bound to hear things like that while wearing a white lab coat in an elementary school. Sometimes I think the coat is the key to making the children pay attention, get excited, be inspired, and work together. It’s what really gets them in science mode!

Satisfied with the warm welcome and goodbye at Reedy Creek, I didn’t even mind getting soaked during the torrential downpour that awaited me outside as I loaded my gear back into my car. I won’t return to that school soon enough.

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Posted On: 1 Feb

Durant Road Elementary is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Durant Road Elementary

GRADE LEVEL: 1stdurant-Spotlight-School
PROGRAM: Funky Forces
INSTRUCTOR: Aaron Henderson
Scientist Aaron’s Experience:

Today I had the pleasure of going to Durant Road Elementary School to hang out with a first grade class there. We had such a good time. They were so excited to be junior scientists for the day and they did a great job with it all.

The program we worked on was called Funky Forces so we all became junior physicists for this program. We looked at how and why things move and specifically looked at three categories of movement. All the junior physicists were so engaged in what I was showing them. They were answering the questions so well and I could see them really understanding the ones they did not know. Eventually we broke into our labs. We looked at magnets and balance. They all got to work with hands on experiments to see how these concepts work.

It was so fun to see their excitement with our final experiment too. We got to make magnetic slime!! By adding in some iron oxide to our slime mixture it was then able to attract the magnets the junior scientists were given. They all seemed to have a great time and that just made it so much more fun for me. We had a blast learning and I can’t wait to be back at Durant Road!

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Posted On: 26 Jan

Wake Forest Charter Academy is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Wake Forest Charter Academy

GRADE LEVEL: 2ndbriarcliff
PROGRAM: Weather Wise
INSTRUCTOR: Seth Shelby
Scientist Seth’s Experience:

In what started as a pretty frigid morning loading experiments into my car quickly shifted into a warm and welcoming atmosphere as I walked through the doors at Wake Forest Charter Academy. It was clear as I made my way into Mrs. Skoll’s class that the 2nd graders were very excited about transforming their classroom into a giant weather experiment. Mrs. Skoll and her class were the perfect way to start off the day, and really did a wonderful job with helping each other and me with their patience and listening skills (A recurring theme at this school).

Today’s experiments had everything to do with the weather. We talked about air molecules, and that if you understand how they behave you can really understand the weather. We explored positive and negative molecules in creating lightning, and even got to touch some safe electricity with our plasma globe. When we got to the weather instruments portion of the lab it was always a hit. In Mrs. Simmons’s class there were multiple students who got wind speeds up to 30mph+ on the anemometers. I was highly impressed! Everyone worked together so well, and I was amazed with how well they respected the instruments and each other.

Among many highlights at this school was how wonderful of a job with staying engaged each class did. Engagement goes beyond excitement, and every student there seemed to ask great questions and really challenged themselves throughout the whole day. I was really taken back by how polite the students and staff are as a whole at this school. As I packed up at the end of each session students were continually telling me “thank you”, yet it was I who was grateful. I can’t wait to visit Wake Forest Charter Academy again!

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Posted On: 11 Dec

Briarcliff Elementary is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Briarcliff Elementary

GRADE LEVEL: 1stbriarcliff
PROGRAM: Funky Forces
INSTRUCTOR: Davis Tate
Scientist Davis’ Experience:

Some mornings, you just wake up tired. You drink your mug of coffee, you give yourself a couple of sharp smacks to the face, but you just can’t shake it. Today was one of those mornings for me.

Until I walked into Briarcliff Elementary.

My first class was Ms. Ward’s class, and right when I walked through the door, 20 smiling faces looked up at me with so much excitement that a REAL SCIENTIST walked into their room, that I couldn’t help but be energized.

Today’s program was all about motion. We talk about how in order for something to move, a force (a push or a pull) has to make it move. One of the things we talk about causing objects to move is wind. When talking about wind, I always like to explain that even though it’s invisible wind is something we can touch. It is made of stuff called molecules. Now when I describe molecules I always describe them as really tiny, so tiny that there are more molecules on your finger than there are people on the planet. When I said this today, it occurred to me, how can I explain that something so small can move something as big as a kite or a sailboat? So an explanation popped into my head, and this is what I said:

“How many of you have a baby brother or sister?”
(About half the class raised their hands.)
“Now how many of you think that if your little brother or sister ran into you as fast as they could, they would knock you over?”
(The whole class defiantly put down their hands.)
“Right, they are so small, they could never push you down, your their big strong brother or sister. BUT, what if instead of one baby brother or sister, you had ONE MILLION BABY BROTHERS OR SISTERS running to push you down!!?!?!? Do you think you could stand up!?!?”
“NO WAY!” shouted the class.
“And that’s how molecules can move things around. One little molecule can’t do anything on its own, but when the wind blows, there isn’t just one little air molecule moving, there are MILLIONS! So millions of molecules can move things around, just like a million baby brothers or sisters could!

That was a really silly visual that the kids had a lot of fun with. It was fun, and I think informative. It illustrated the concept that I hoped to explain in an understandable way. I have never given this explanation before, but I will almost certainly use it again. It just popped into my brain in the moment.

And this moment was one of those moments that I love in this job. At Science Fun we have an opportunity to teach science to hundreds of children a week, and teach hundreds of science programs a year. Through all these different faces and programs, the experiments we do, and the way we describe things morphs to become more exciting, or funny, or informative. This constant evolution is so exciting to experience. But it’s not the mug of coffee or the smacks in the face that fuel it, its the students that are so excited to learn and engage with science.

Thanks for the fuel Briarcliff Elementary!

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Posted On: 9 Dec

Olive Chapel Elementary is our Spotlight School of the week

SCHOOL: Olive Chapel Elementary

GRADE LEVEL: 2ndolive-Spotlight-School
PROGRAM: Sound Surprise
INSTRUCTOR: Gabi Goszczynska
Scientist Gabi’s Experience:

Rolling down the hall with two big bins filled with balloons, tuning forks and a giant ear, I was back again this week for teaching a second round of Sound Surprise at Olive Chapel Elementary! This is one of Science Fun for Everyone’s most popular programs and definitely one of the most fun to teach. Olive Chapel Elementary is a brightly painted and friendly school filled with awesome students many of whom have attended birthday parties and camps back at the lab. It was nice to see many familiar faces!

I started off astounding students with my balloon trick, managing to keep my balloon from popping even though I poked a giant needle through it. Thankfully, I am a scientist and not a magician so I was able to share my secret with my fellow scientists. Just a little bit of Vaseline on the end of the needle should block up your holes, keeping the balloon from popping. But, just to make sure everyone was listening, I surprised them by popping the balloon anyway in the end. The program definitely started off with a bang!

We then explored how sound waves travel through solids, liquids and gases and how they vibrate molecules along the way. My favorite part of Sound Surprise is seeing the kids giggle as they vibrate their noses, buttons and zippers with the tuning forks. After showing them my giant ear model, we built our own ear models. It put a grin on my face to see how many cups were decorated with “Science Rocks! and “Science is cool.” The grand finale is of course the Sound Slime. It seemed that everyone was getting the hang of blowing up giant Sound Slime bubbles. I have to say that it was because I had so many great listeners and smooth “SAILers” at Olive Chapel Elementary. All in all, I had a wonderful day with tons of positive vibrations filling the classroom!

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