Rex Mill students caught in academic 'blizzard'

By Curt Yeomans


Students and parents in one Rex Mill Middle School classroom learned how the moon's gravity can "boomerang" a spacecraft back to Earth.

Next door, more students and parents made ice cream to learn how science is involved in the process.

Across the hall, other families counted red, green, brown, and yellow M & Ms candies so they could use the numbers to make a pictograph.

The families were part of the third-annual "Math and Science Blizzard" event, hosted by Rex Mill Middle to promote math and science.

Rex Mill is the county's math and science magnet middle school, so several students already have an interest in those subjects.

"These activities allow students to learn that science is constantly in motion in their everyday lives," said Lester Henry, a math and science teacher for sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-graders.

The event began with performances by Rex Mill's chorus, dance department, cheerleaders, and step team.

Parents and students also participated in the "Winter Weather Guide" portion of the event, which included different activities in math, and connections classes. Among those activities were origami, graphic design, string art, and dancing.

One activity, called "Got Milk?" attracted long lines of parents and students. Students were allowed to mix ingredients to make ice cream in a zip-top plastic bag. After combining the ingredients, the students had to fill the bag with ice and shake it. The youths got to eat what they made.

Two eighth-grade students, Alexandria Jones, 13, and Breanna Byars, 14, decided to invoke the scientific method by testing a hypothesis they had about the shaking process.

"We wanted to see how fast we could make it by dancing," Byars said. "We wanted to know if it would speed up the process."

Another popular activity was the "Mission to Mars." The activity allowed students to land a lunar lander on a moon-like surface, drive a remote-controlled car on another moon-like surface, and use a tension-powered arm to shoot a marble around "the Moon," and toward "Earth."

"I think it's cool to do all of this stuff," said Quantavious Bussey, an 11-year-old sixth-grader who has been interested in science since he was 4. "It's just neat to see how the world changes, how the universe changes, and how the environment changes because of science."

Tré Gocher, a 12-year-old seventh-grader, is another student who attended the event because he enjoys math and science. Gocher said one of his favorite activities is drawing pie and bar graphs.

"I like the way they work together," Gocher said. "I actually prefer math, but in science, there is some math involved. You have to know how to measure properly when you're doing an experiment, and you need to know how to do math to do it correctly."