SCHOOL: Wake Forest Elementary
GRADE LEVEL: 3rd
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!