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LES gets kids hooked on science
Special event gives kids hands-on experience
0930 Flubber
Michael Straehly of Midway and his daughters, Lydia, Laci and Lauren, play with samples of homemade flubber Thursday at Liberty Elementarys Science Discovery Night Kickoff. - photo by Photo by Emily C. Harris

Liberty Elementary School is trying to get students hooked on science. To generate interest in scientific and technical fields among children, the school on Thursday held its first-ever Science Discovery Night Kickoff.
Families checked out displays and demonstrations and tried their hands at activities that allowed them to get up close and personal with technology.
“We want to start elementary students early to achieve, grow and develop a love of science,” Principal Chris Anderson said.
Along with a half-dozen teacher-led experiments, science night featured vendors from the Society of Women Engineers, Georgia Southern University,  Savannah State University, 4-H, SNF Inc., The Sea Turtle Center, Georgia Power, the Hinesville Police Department, Georgia Institute of Technology, Liberty County Mosquito Control and several other entities. Families in attendance also enjoyed a free meal and door prizes. Students who visited at least 10 vendor booths earned a dress-down day.
Children got their hands dirty making slime, comparing various types of soil samples, playing with homemade “flubber” and getting their fingerprints taken. Those who preferred to keep it clean climbed inside a miniature planetarium, watched robot demonstrations, launched paper rockets, viewed various animal specimens in jars, created human-generated power, touched turtle shells, examined at mosquitoes through a microscope, inflated balloons through chemical reactions and sat in real Baja and Formula One race cars.
Anderson said the idea for this event came from a workshop he took in February while attending the Georgia Science Conference in Atlanta.
The workshop was presented by a school in Southwest Georgia that hold annual science nights, and Anderson decided to start a similar event at LES. He recruited a committee of faculty members headed by special-education teacher Justin Chambers, who, along with other committee members, volunteered their time after school to make this event a success. Anderson and Chambers said they hope the event will get students excited about science.
“If we can hook them on science at an early age, they’ll want to do higher-level math and want to do more nonfiction reading, which is also going to help increase their vocabulary,” Anderson said.  
Science night is a precursor to the LES Science Club’s membership drive, which starts next week. The new club will meet once a month during an extended recess period and will involve students in more hands-on activities.
“The goal is to develop a love of science in elementary school that will carry over into middle school and beyond,” the principal said.
Dr. Aniruddha Mitra — an associate professor with Georgia Southern University’s mechanical, electrical engineering and IT department — attended the event and said he was impressed by Liberty Elementary’s initiative in bringing more science into the school.
“We do a lot of high-school science events and fairs, but this is the first elementary-school event that we have been invited to and we took the opportunity. ... We need to plant the inquisitive seeds of science and technology in advance while they are young,” he said.  
GSU electrical and mechanical engineering graduate students conducted demonstrations with robots and race cars from their Eagle Motor Sports race club.  
Sgt. Anthony Dates brought his daughters, Tatayna and Zoey, to science night.  
“(Tatayna) wouldn’t leave me alone about it. She couldn’t wait to come,” he said.  
Dates said he appreciates hands-on educational events and likes that children can get their hands dirty.  
“I’m enjoying it,” he said. “I believe that science is a base for imagination, so this is great.”
Michael Straehly and his three girls, Lydia, Laci and Lauren, strolled from booth to booth, smiling and giggling while squishing, stretching and bouncing homemade flubber.
“My Laci is really into science,” Straehly said. “She was so excited to come. That’s all she could talk about was getting to see the planetarium.”  
Anderson said science night attendance surpassed school officials’ expectations. He estimated that more than 300 parents and students took part.

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