How long would it take you to make a bridge out of straws? And, upon finishing, could your product sustain the weight of a blackboard eraser? Or two?
Those were the questions filling the hallways of Bursley Elementary during their pre-Spring Break Family Science Night. Planned by Grand Valley State University students training to become teachers, each activity found its roots in or was adapted from Science Olympiad events.
Eliana Nichols, mom to 2nd grader Mackenzie (pictured above), enjoyed the evening and appreciated the learning that her daughter was able to do after school.
“My daughter has been talking about this for two weeks! She loves experiments and watching Myth Busters on TV — she’s a science nut!”
Activities included a sink or float experiment, reflection relay, barge building, working with magnets, creating paper rockets, and firing “Cat-a-Pults” as pictured above. The Sanchez family enjoyed launching plastic cats at the Cat-a-Pult firing range. Mother Heather was thrilled to have a night out that incorporated learning.
“It’s great to have something interesting and educational to do. We don’t have a lot of science stuff at home, per se, so nights like this are fantastic.”
Nights “like this” began in the mind of GVSU Associate Professor of Physics, Keith Oliver, in an effort to get his education students into real-world teaching situations sooner than they typically would in their program.
“Three years ago we were looking for an opportunity for our students to interact with elementary children before getting to the end of their program. Typically field placements come later on, but this gives our prospective teachers an opportunity early on. So now we plan roughly two Family Science Nights per semester!”
Principal Rané Garcia couldn’t have been more pleased with the effort put forth by Grand Valley’s team of students or the turnout of Bursley families who came to participate in the fun.
“I appreciate the opportunity to work with future teachers — its a win for the GVSU students, a win for the community, and a win for our students!”