WARREN, NJ - Last Friday, March 27, Central School held its Science Day where students were exposed to a variety of science experiences from engineering and physics, to chemistry and life sciences.
Along with Principal Janet Milita, the team led f by Dr. Laura Herndon and Jeannine Sarosy, hoped to spark an interest in science with the help of scientists, presenters, volunteers and educators. Of her third year planning science day Herndon said,“Being a scientist myself, I was thrilled to get to bring a day of science to the students. I wanted them to see how much fun it is to learn about how things work and how important it is to question everything.”
A unique sight in the parking lot was the BioBus, a 1974 transit bus retrofitted with research microscopes in order to create a moving laboratory. Once they boarded, students found themselves in front of hands-on learning stations.Scientist David Yap modeled stereo and compound microscopes in the front exploratory area and then allowed students full access to use the lab-grade equipment themselves.
Students were able to look at daphnia, bacteria and even examine their own hair and clothing fibers. All of the students were enthusiastic about viewing and discussing the daphnia. Learning that it was a crustacean and observing the heart, nerves, digestive system and the one pregnant daphnia awed the students.
Bricks 4 Kidz ran a variety of workshops; K-1worked on projects with mechanized Legos and second and third-graders constructed a Ferris wheel and listened to lessons in the basics of physics, becoming familiar with terminology such as torque and friction. The students were delighted to learn that by focusing on all three of Newton’s laws, amusement parks are great places to learn and experience the laws of physics.
Fourth and fifth grade students took robotics to the next level using the Lego Mindstorms NXT sets. The students worked together in groups and in building simple robots, discovered basic programming.
Somerset County 4H representative Rachel Bjaczk offered an engaging workshop on owls and owl pellets. She explained that like most birds, owls usually swallow their prey whole. The gizzard compacts material such as teeth, claws and feathers into a pellet which is regurgitated. Central School students carefully examined the pellets’ contents with precision, and uncovered bones such as skulls, scapulas, and femurs. Bjaczk provided information for the students about 4H (head, hands, heart, & health) programs as the Somerset County 4H is always welcoming new members and new clubs. Some topics which had piqued interest were animals, gardening, fossils, worms, trees, exercise and more. Check out http://somerset.njaes.rutgers.edu/4h/pdfs/4h-2012-School-Enrichment-Brochure.pdf.
Cliff Wright-Sunflower, a beekeeper from Pennsylvania, brought the honeybee hive to life. As an environmental educator, he shared knowledge and expertise in his field. Students were fascinated by the dance of the honeybees and how they communicate with each other. All of the students participated by portraying various types of bees in the colony or flowers to be pollinated. They learned to differentiate types of bees and analyze the very specific roles of each. He also set up six different exhibits including a real hive, candle making, and a beekeeping equipment demonstration.
Calling all paleontologists! John Miller of Pearl Observatory ran an activity where Kindergarten and first graders learned about and “built” a dinosaur. Older students did a fossil dig with fossils that Miller had collected himself during the year. Students found shark teeth, sea urchin spines, fossilized coral, and more.
Robert Ferreiro and Kevin Gallagher of the Warren Township Police Department ran a forensics workshop for students. The detectives gave a detailed presentation about fingerprinting, clues, solving cases, and the science that is truly used on a day-to-day basis within law enforcement.
As as one first grader said," science rocks!"
Science Day was also made possible in part by Exxon station owner Steve Perdue and through a $100 donation by Wegmans. Through Perdue's nomination, Central School received a $500 grant from the 2013 Exxon Mobil Educational Alliance to sponsor some of the Science Day activities.