Science expo shocks and awes

By: Cheri March The News Messenger
-A +A
Lincoln High School knows how to make science fun “ shockingly so. Just ask Jose Gomez, left smarting after a mild static electricity jolt he received from the Van de Graaff generator booth at the school's Science Expo on Friday. It's pretty cool, said Gomez, 9, laughing. I was surprised it actually shocked us. I think this is my favorite (exhibit). Along with Gomez, more than 350 third-graders swarmed the high school's gym on Friday for the third annual expo. It's important to see science come alive, to actually see the applications, said Marilou Edwards, the high school science teacher who coordinated the event. Hopefully it will make them ask questions of their own teachers. In the case of the Van de Graaff “ an aluminum ball charged by a fast-moving belt “ the shock was an entertaining byproduct of an experiment meant to demonstrate how oppositely charged objects would stick together, while those with a similar positive charge would repel. When two positive charges come together, that's when things go flying off, Denzel Chindah, 16, told booth visitors as they watched a Styrofoam cup seem to hurl itself off the generator. The whole premise is kids teaching kids, Edwards said. My high school students are completely interacting with the kids. They're so excited that the third-graders are excited. Last year, the event was open only to students from Carlin C. Coppin Elementary School. But due to its popularity, the school expanded the expo to include First Street, Twelve Bridges and Foskett Ranch elementary schools. Edwards' students created the 36 exhibits “ almost double last year's count “ on their own time. It's really cool “ there's a lot of stuff to see, said Hally Jones, 8. I like science because you get to look at stuff you've never seen before. Like the dissected cat body she checked out with fellow student Beau Lewis, 9. It's cool because it's dead, Lewis said. Jones and Lewis snapped on latex gloves to explore the cat's internal organs. It's pretty amazing because you can see every muscle, the whole digestive system, even the heart, said Shelby Stillman, a high school junior staffing the booth. It's fun to see the kids are interested, that they're not afraid. You can tell by the faces they make whether they're disgusted or interested. It's the best, said Shane Husainzada, 18. Some of the less graphic exhibits included man-made snow, paper airplanes, a Diet Coke and Mentos geyser, and a clay volcano that spewed faux lava. It's just vinegar and baking soda, said the volcano's creator, Casey Simonsen, 16. I added food coloring and dry ice for a little effect. Norma Williams, who stopped by to visit her son as he worked the snow station, said she was impressed. All the students did a fantastic job, Williams said. They're all so informed about their projects. I'm grateful to have a science teacher like Mrs. Edwards, who set this up for the kids, because they need to do real stuff and this is real science. For Edwards, the expo was about more than just science. The third-graders get excited about going to high school, Edwards said. It's also a way for parents new to the district to see what the high school is like. A lot of schools don't have the ability to have this kind of equipment and demonstrations. But elementary school kids aren't the only ones learning. In creating and explaining their projects, Edwards said high school students developed a better understanding themselves. They have this knowledge they can spread, she said. It gives them so much more self-confidence. It's important to have pride in their education. They should be able to show off. Cheri March can be reached at cherim@gold or comment on this story at www.