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Blinded by science

Older FPCA students seize opportunity to teach children

POSTED: March 25, 2011 9:10 a.m.
Seraine Page/

Ninth-graders Zachary Vasquez, Tyler Buckley and James Phillips demonstrate Newton’s Law of Inertia with a project that involved dropping an egg into a glass of water.

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First Presbyterian Christian Academy students turned the schools campus into a science project Tuesday.
Science teacher Kathy Walden said she has hosted Science Night for the past several years to give FPCA’s older students an opportunity to teach the younger children by demonstrating interesting science experiments.
“It’s a big event,” Walden said Tuesday as students set up their exhibits and participated in projects. “We have a really unique situation here (because of our student population) … we have a good time.”
Students meandered from booth to booth, learning how science plays a role in making homemade ice cream, creating “slime” and watching experiments about magnetism and inertia. Some junior scientists incorporated common household items, such as lemon juice and toilet cleaner, into their experiments to show onlookers that science is a part of people’s daily routines.
Elementary school students used eye droppers, shook  project components in bags and snapped glow sticks to help the older children complete their projects. Classrooms on the top floor of FPCA were set up as makeshift science labs where the older students demonstrated what they’ve learned in school.
Parent Leilani Sykes attended Science Night to watch her son practice his experiment and give her 3-year-old daughter, Leila, a chance to take part in hands-on activities. Parents were given workbooks to help answer science-related questions with their children about each of the experiments in the classrooms.
“(It’s) just a really good opportunity to come out and see what the kids are learning,” Sykes said. “I think I’ve been seeing a lot of things that I haven’t seen in a long time. It’s good for Leila.”
Throughout the evening, high school students did their best to answer elementary students’ questions about why certain experiments worked the way they did.
“The thrill of just teaching everybody else what this is about (is most exciting),” Justin Hackle, 14, said of demonstrating Newton’s Law of Inertia through an egg-drop experiment.
One group of juniors focused on making colored, edible “glass,” which required sugar, hot water and food dye, to show the younger students how the substances can undergo physical changes and end up with different appearances. Participants were encouraged to eat the “glass” after it had cooled in an ice bath.
“We’re showing them a physical change can take place … we still end up with the same properties,” junior T’era Alston said. “Just seeing them really enjoy it and take away from the experience and showing them that science can be fun (is my favorite part).”

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