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Science Day brings local children to McMichael

by Margeaux Corby,
  • A magnifying glass connected to a computer shows close-up shots of anything that is put under it. Here, children study the blown-up image of money. Photos by Laura Bradford.

  • Kids watch from a distance as sophomore Pierre Cieniewicz presses a button with a yardstick to complete the magnetic circuit, causing a small ring to launch into the air.

On Saturday, the serious and erudite silence of McMichael Science Building was shattered with peals of children's laughter and the crunching sound of eggs smashing on the marble floor.  

The Society of Physics Students sponsored the Science Day for Kids last weekend and nearly 20 children from local elementary schools ran around the floors of McMichael to watch various science exhibits and demonstrations.  

“Part of what we want to do as a physics club is to have an educational outreach event,” said Martin Kamela, associate professor of physics. “We want to encourage children to ask questions and make sure they have a gung ho approach to exploring science.” 

Children from Elon Elementary, Hillcrest Elementary and Marvin B. Smith watched and participated in the egg drop, where guests were charged with creating a casing that would protect an egg dropped from the third floor of McMichael’s atrium.  

“That tarp was a good idea,” Kamela said. “We ended up doing crowd control and paper towel duty.” 

The exhibits displayed were designed for the study abroad GST 236: Science and Education Development class Kamela will be co-teaching in India this winter term. On the trip, students will present a traveling science center to middle school students in Kerala, India, and some exhibits from the trip were shown to the children last weekend. 

Displays include a demonstration on inertia based on mass using soccer balls and bowling balls. A plastic human skeleton was hooked to a doorknob so when children turned the handle they could see how the joints in the hand, wrist and arm moved to make simple motions. 

“We wanted to show that science is cool,” said Evan Dempster, president of the society. “It may be boring in a class but there are ways to make it awesome when kids are able to explore and learn on their own.”  

This is the second time the society has sponsored the science day. Kamela said they would like to make it an annual event. 

“You need to encourage students to ask questions,” he said. “We need to have children be open to the field of science.”