Monday, August 19, 2013

Making Connections: Boys & Girls Club Stories

We’re reflecting on the incredible contributions of our 2012-13 AmeriCorps Museum Educators as their service year comes to a close. These stories were shared by Dylan Maeby, a member of the team that facilitated a Museum Learning Club at the Boys & Girls Club on the Southside of Providence and provided engaging STEM enrichment activities to 130 2nd to 4th graders.

Science Inspiration
“Potions” was the last in a series of lessons we developed about the science behind magic.  We’d used static electricity to move objects without touching them, made flip books to show that pictures can come to life, and now we were using ingredients like “unicorn horn” (Alka-Seltzer) mixed with “dragon blood” (food coloring and water) to illustrate the power of chemical reactions.  Throughout the lesson the kids were delighted as their mixtures bubbled and fizzed.  Through careful observation, they determined which ingredients were responsible for the reactions they observed and which ones were not.  A successful lesson for sure, we ended by combining all of the potions in one container for a final show.
When we arrived the next day, I was met at the door by a group of children. “Jaden has something to show you!” they told me. “I made this for you,” said Jaden, an often-rambunctious child, as he handed me a bottle filled with a combination of what looked like water, oil and food coloring.  “When I went home yesterday I told my parents what we did and then I asked if I could make my own potions.  This was the best one. It was hard to find the right balance of water and oil, but I did!”

He turned to walk away with a proud look on his face. A moment later he shouted, “Oh, I figured out that it wasn’t unicorn horn we were using, it was Alka-Seltzer!”

Building Bridges
Two sisters, ages 9 and 7, had been hard at work for well over an hour to create a suspension bridge from newspaper and string.  They had unsuccessfully tried numerous times, yet they remained undeterred.  Carefully adjusting the strings, taping then re-taping, the girls moved closer to accomplishing their goal.  As the younger girl tested the bridge once again, her sister had a revelation.  “We can do this at home!” she exclaimed.  “We have all of the things we need.”  They momentarily forgot about testing their bridge as they excitedly discussed all of the different materials they could use.  Eventually they perfected their design but I couldn’t help but feel that the real success lay in the many hours of play yet to come.

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