This past Monday, July 31st, the Science Giants launched their last week of working with the daycare students by building catapults out of popsicle sticks and plastic spoons. The lessons from that activity were given a bit more structure by making bridges out of marshmallows and toothpicks. Teaching the kids about important aspects of engineering and physics.

In order to add some fun and healthy competition to the catapult building, the students put two tables together and laid down strips of masking tape to act as yard lines and used some straws to make a goal post, all to act as make-shift football field. The kids got to enjoy making marshmallow projectiles go flying, all while learning about the significance of angles and tension in creating thrust and accuracy in aiming. In learning this first, when they went to build their bridges out of toothpicks and marshmallows, this allowed them to build upon their newfound knowledge. The students had fun working with the teams the kids had paired themselves into, as they got to share their insider information from their own practice with this activity. Also, they got to egg on their competitive spirit. Their knowledge was put to test with large C batteries, as way to see how much weight their structures could hold. The maximum held was two, which may not sound a lot, but the kids still took a tremendous amount of pride in their work.

On Wednesday, when the boys and girls worked together, the students showed the kids two experiments with “lava” in the title but really taught them more about what happens when polar liquids are combined and are then met with a soluble solid. Food coloring was added, of course, to create a more dramatic effect. The first experiment was called “Lava in a Cup”. This involved taking salt, adding it to a cup filled with oil and water, and then adding food coloring, causing the oil to bubble back up and look like boiling lava (especially if the food coloring added was red or orange). The students then turned theorizing about what must have happened into a group challenge. It was exciting to hear how many guesses came really close to the correct answer, especially when the kids pointed out the validity of one of their peer’s responses in order to support their own theory. The next activity, “Make Your Own Lava Lamp”, inspired a little less academic theorizing and a little more goofy delight. Nevertheless, the kids identified the connections between the two activities, and thus had a better idea at of how adding Alka-Seltzer could create the lava lamp effect that it did. The students ended the day feeling secure in the fact that they had passed on a great deal of knowledge to the kids. This is the feeling of being a Science Giant 🙂

The week was wrapped up with a journey to the Adler Planetarium, where the Science Giants were given the special opportunity to see the presentation “Destination Solar System”, where they learned about the grand expanse of our own solar system and all its unique components, answering facinating questions like: “Why is Mars red?”, “What is Jupiter’s big red spot?”, “What makes Jupiter’s moons so unique?”, ‘What are Saturn’s rings made of?”, and “What is the asteroid belt?” Donnell thought it was cool that not only does it rain on Jupiter’s moon, Titan, but it falls differently than rain we are used to due to a difference in gravitational pull. Destiny did not know before that Mars was red because it completely covered in rust. Jamari was surprised to learn that most of the life we have here on Earth was likely brought here by an asteroid.

Later, when going through the self-guided exhibit “The Universe: A Walk-Through Space and Time” the exhibit explained how we are all part of the universe because all of the compounds and elements that comprise the universe are what comprise our bodies and all the life around us that nourishes us as well. This led Jamari to ask “It says, we are made up of everything that makes up the universe. Where do we get blood?” I had to smile because the answer to that question is quite extensive, but part of it had been answered before. Consequently, I asked him, “What is blood? What is it made of?” Among other things, he listed iron. From there, he remembered from the presentation that asteroids brought to Earth not only water and microbial ingredients for life, bringing him to the realization that blood, just like every other aspect of life, is a combination of compounds and elements readily found in almost everything else in the universe. A priceless eureka moment to say the least – one of many 🙂

Before the trip, I asked the students to think on everything that we learned this summer, everything they want to learn, what sort of majors they want to go into, and connections to them at the Planetarium. Donnell, who has said he want to go into a computer science major and career, came to the realization that the exhibits we saw involve a lot of software and programming, and he could take part in creating that someday!

So many connections, so little time. Next week, the Science Giants will wrap up the summer with showing off something really cool that they learned to family, friends, and strangers at Al Raby. They could show off a lot more knowledge, as this week proves, but I do not doubt that they will have more opportunities to do that once the school year starts 🙂



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