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Harper students, parents explore science

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By Curt Yeomans

cyeomans@news-daily.com

Every time Harper Elementary School kindergartner, Trey Jones, tried with all of his might to blow a large bubble with some soapy water, it quickly burst after a small dome started to appear.

"You're blowing too hard," Ericka Mincey, the youngster's mother, said as Jones stuck his straw back into the soapy water for another try. "You need to be more gentle."

Harper Elementary School hosted its first-ever Science Expo on Thursday, where 14 professionals set up exhibits to show students and parents how they use science in their fields of work. The professionals came from a variety of workplaces, including the U.S. Space and Rocketry Center, the Georgia Aquarium, Emory University, Georgia Power, and the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office.

"The goal was to expose students to science, so they can see it's something real, and not just words in a textbook, or experiments that we do in class," said Sancia Berkley, the school's science lab teacher and the Science Expo organizer.

Parents and students signed up to participate in three, 30-minute sessions during the expo. During many of the sessions, parents and students worked together on science experiments. The activities ranged from measuring the diameter of bubbles, to figuring out which shark teeth came from which type of shark.

Clayton County Public Schools' STARLAB mobile planetarium was also set up at the expo.

Clayton County Schools' Elementary Science Coordinator Vicki Jacobs said approximately half of the district's 38 elementary schools hold science-theme nights throughout the school year for the same reason that Harper held its expo.

"Right now, there is probably a science night scheduled to take place every other week until mid-December," Jacobs said. "Then, after we return from the Christmas break in January, the next cycle of science nights will begin for the spring."

Georgia Aquarium Environmental Educator Amy Warnock said Harper was the third Clayton County school that asked the aquarium to participate in a science night this fall.

"I think it's such a great idea, because it gets the kids interested in science," she said. "It's also a great opportunity for the parents as well, because they come in and watch their kids get excited about science."

Riverdale High School Physics Teacher Gretchen Adegbaju attended Harper Elementary's Science Expo not as a science teacher, but as the parent of two students at the school. She said she liked it because it gave the students early exposure to the different applications for science, and that should help them understand it better as they get older.

"They get to learn the applications for all of these concepts now, rather than asking why it's needed later on," Adegbaju said.

Adegbaju's daughters, fourth-grader Christian Adegbaju, and third-grader Jordin Adegbaju, said they both enjoyed getting to learn about various forms of science.

"I liked the STARLAB because I got to see all of the stars," Christian Adegbaju said.