Valley Journal
Valley Journal

Exploring the sciences

Youngsters, families experiment with science

A diverse spectrum of sciences were represented at the second annual K. William Harvey Elementary School Science night last Tuesday.

From astronomy to ornithology — elementary students chose from an array of science stations and participated in experiments with their parents and families. 

“We were thrilled,” K. William Harvey teacher Carey Swanberg said. “We thought it went beautifully. There was a large turnout and a lot of diversity in science.”

One of the most popular experiments created ice cream from liquid nitrogen. Children swarmed the experiment table as liquid dairy and liquid nitrogen collided, emitting a smoky substance and cooking up a tasty treat for everyone. 

The students were also thrilled to observe the night skies and solar systems in the star lab and delighted by the computer science and robotics stations.

Besides parents and teachers, other community members pitched in to make the event as successful as last year. Students enjoyed learning about technology from the members of the Ronan High School robotics team, who demonstrated the abilities of their award-winning robot.

Tim Olson, the Director of the Division of Math and Science at the Salish Kootenai College brought a replica of a robot that NASA will send to Mars. Olson and his team of college students are working with NASA to create a component of the robot that will make its debut on the face of Mars sometime in the next few years. 

The event was the brainchild of four teachers who are members of the Big Sky Science Partnership. The four teachers include Renee Kelch, Charla Lake, Carey Swanberg and Hillary Lozar. As members of Big Sky Science Partnership the ladies took master level classes in science education and in science throughout the summer and school year. They also developed some leadership goals, which they acted upon this year and last year with the family science night. 

With a 400-student school, Lozar mentioned that many of the parents are intimidated by teachers and the size of the school. Family science night was developed as a way to welcome the parents to the school for a social, yet educational event. The science night also serves as a safe place for families to spend some quality time together.

“We are working really hard to get more parental and familial involvement in the school,” Lozar said. “Science night is a good way to get parents involved.”

Community involvement in the school, particularly parental involvement, is an essential aspect of learning as well as a goal the BSSP teachers are striving for. 

The event was sponsored through BSSP by the National Science Foundation. With the recent emphasis on reading and math in No Child Left Behind, BSSP was the result of a multi-million dollar grant to promote sciences within the schools on reservations.

“I think it gets the community involved and they realize (the importance of science education),” Director of Big Sky Science Partnership Regina Sievert said. “So the kids will pursue science in higher education.”

Sievert mentioned that it is especially important for the Indian population because they tend to be underrepresented in science fields. 

The four teachers were also sure to include a cultural aspect and invited SKC wildlife biologist Stephanie Gillin to set up a station with a plethora of furs, horns and stuffed birds.

The two teachers that will carry on with BSSP are excited to organize the popular event next year. And judging from the success of this year’s science night, they’re bound to host a full house of future scientists next year as well.

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