DANVILLE — Students at Danville Elementary School experimented with a turkey baster turned ping-pong ball cannon, flew hot-air ballons and more yesterday.
The school held its biannual enrichment day. Carrying the theme “Science of the Body and Mind,” classes were transformed into science labs led by teachers and experts either in the school or via video feed across the country.
The purpose of the day is “to get kids excited about learning, in a different way,” enrichment teacher Cindy Wood said.
“Some of these kids are already talking at this age. ‘What do I want to be when I grow up?’” Wood said. “This gives them a chance to realize, ‘there’s a lot more out there that I can do.’”
As part of the day’s events, every student attended a grade-wide assembly and completed three workshops from dozens of options. In the sessions, students worked with people who use the scientific process for a living.
“Elementary teachers are jacks of all trades. Often, that means we’re experts with reading and the arts,” Wood said.
“Science and math, we’re good, but we’re not experts by any stretch. Having an expert who can answer their questions at their level so they can understand it is really valuable.”
In one room, students made boats from aluminum foil and floated them on water as a physical scientist led the lab over the Internet, from the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum in Michigan.
In the cafeteria, Glenna Lydick, program facilitator with the SEE Science Center in Manchester, tested chemical reactions with students. Standing in front of the school’s third-graders, she put hydrogen peroxide into a tube. She then added liquid soap, which did nothing.
The students told her to add a catalyst to start a chemical reaction. She then picked up some potassium iodide and explained what it is as she added it to the mixture. Almost instantly, yellow foam shot out of the tube as the students laughed and discussed the reaction.
To third-grader Taylor Dionne, that was one of the highlights of the day. But it was the whole day’s experiences that got her attention more than anything.
“It made me feel like (science is) pretty cool,” she said. “I definitely want to do experiments when I grow up.”
Lydick said hearing that kind of response from a student is why she works with children in the first place.
“The best part is getting kids interested in math and science, to show them that it can be really exciting and fun, and not just sitting around in a laboratory,” she said. “It’s really lighting a little torch inside them.”