On Thursday night, alternative energy cars were built from balloons and straws, DNA was extracted from strawberries and sugar content was tested in items including tea, soda and corn syrup. Those were just three stations that students and parents could visit while attending North Side Elementary School’s second annual BioFuels Family Night.
Teaming up with Hands On! Regional Museum staff members, students, teachers and parents gathered in the school cafeteria, dedicating an entire night to the exploration of science.
Kids and their parents traveled from booth to booth experimenting with plants, food, drinks, dry ice and digital microscopes to get a better understanding of how science is present in their daily lives.
“I’ve done some of the dry ice (experiments) and the crushing thing over there, where you have to crush the grass and corn,” Elliott Childress, a fifth-grader said.
Students were given a handout upon entering the cafeteria that gave descriptions of each of the five stations. When the students completed all the stations, they were able to pick up another fun science-related project to take home.
Chrysalis Cantrell, AmeriCorps volunteer and outreach coordinator with Hands On! Museum, said kids always seem to show an interest in the projects and programs they offer.
“They always have fun with this kind of stuff, they love it,” Cantrell said. “They ask a lot of really good questions.”
Cantrell said a lot of times the kids get so into the programs they continue asking her questions as she’s packing up to go home.
“This is the second year we’ve collaborated with Hands On! Museum where they’ve brought out some science experiments for our families to enjoy and work with our students,” Sharon Pickering, North Side’s principal, said.
Working with Hands On! was possible through a grant the museum created to bring programs like BioFuels into schools. Thursday night, Pickering said about five people from Hands On! were present to monitor and man each station, as well as North Side teachers and staff.
Already offering math and reading family nights, she said the goal was to make learning about science a fun experience.
“We see it everyday and we like to show families and students how science is all around them. It’s in the automobiles they drive, it’s in the food that they eat, and so you’ll see some of those experiments in there,” Pickering said.
She said that nights like Thursday’s BioFuels night helps them interact with parents and the community.
“To open our school to the community and to work with Hands On! collaboratively is a great way to show that we want everyone involved in our school,” Pickering said.