Saturday, February 14, 2009

Kinnelon's Family Science Night

The second session of Family Science Night took place this past February 4th, 2009 at Kinnelon's Stonybrook school. We attended the first on December 3, 2008 from 6 to 8pm and had a blast.

A new program for Kinnelon NJ, Family Science Night is a "hands-on science learning experience for children in grades 1 through 5 and their parents. The program provides an opportunity for families to work together to conduct simple, inquiry based, age-appropriate science activities" made possible by a grant from KEHSA.

We started out in the gym where Science Supervisor Noreen LaFergola set the stage for the evening's activities - putting them into context for the parents and getting the kids pumped for some science.

Over the next hour and forty minutes, we rotated through 5 fifteen minute activities:
+ Float your boat where we designed a boat out of aluminum foil to hold the most weight before it sunk [we assumed 30 marbles would sink our ship; we were able to load 171]

+ I Spy consisted of 2 activities: a colored toothpick hunt and an animal/habitat matching game

+ Don't break the bridge during which we built a bridge to hold a cup filled with marbles using spaghetti... We lost our bridge at 47 marbles.

+ Roller Coaster Ride required that we create a looping track for a marble out of 2 half pieces of foam pipe insulation, masking tape and a piece of carpet.

+ Use the force had the kids pushing wheeled carts across the room with enough force to make it past certain distances, without slamming against the opposite wall.

Float your Boat was our favorite. Emma's next favorite was the Roller Coaster because she did that one completely on her own, rejecting parental assistance. By the time Don't Break the Bridge came, we were exhausted.

I've uploaded my photos of the evening's Family Science Night to Flickr.

Here is the pedagogical rationale behind these type of events [from Sandia National Labs]:

+ Children perform at higher levels when their parents are involved in their learning (McShane, 1999)
+ Parents pass on their attitudes along to their children (Gross, 1988; Hurd, 1994)
+ Women engineers and scientists indicate presence of strong parental support (Campbell, 1992)
+ Learning is enhanced through guided, scaffolded participation in real-world science activities (Campbell et al., 1989)
+ Works of Piaget and Vygotsky
+ NSTA goal of hands on experiences in science learning

Here are experiments to try at home as well as a list of Family Science Night activities for '07-'08 from Sandia National Labs. Pretty cool!

The brochure for the evening listed the names of many from Kiel and Stonybrook schools who took part in organizing the event: from principals, supervisors and educators, to parents and students.

It was intense. It was fun and we learned.

If you went, will you let us know what you thought? And, if you took photos, consider adding them to Flickr.

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