Attracting children to science
Published: Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 02:05
Thirty-three school groups from Linn and Benton counties came to Tuesday’s half of the semi-annual Discovery Days event, with grades as young as kindergarten and as old as sixth grade represented among the expected number of nearly 1000 children per day.
Discovery Days is sponsored by the Colleges of Science and Engineering and relies on volunteers to run stations showcasing science and engineering for children from schools in cities like Sweet Home and Lebanon. Nearly 75 volunteers — mostly Oregon State University students — submitted applications to assist.
Margie Haak, Discovery Days coordinator and a senior instructor in chemistry, has been working with Discovery Days for 10 years, but can remember chaperoning her oldest son’s class to the event when it was called Museum Days — her son is now 28.
The event provides an opportunity for students to gain exposure to “doing science rather than reading about it,” Haak said.
“We’re in the position that we can offer them things that they can’t do in the schools,” Haak said. “These are our future students.”
Discovery Days takes place at the LaSells Stewart Center on the south side of the OSU campus.
Jasper LaFortune’s station featured a beaker of water and dry ice that produced carbon dioxide, which students scooped up in plastic cups.
“Kids can take a cup and dip it in and drink it and throw it on their friends and have a lot of fun with it,” LaFortune, a freshman in computer science, said.
The sorority, Sigma Delta Omega, was also represented, presenting two demonstrations featuring dry ice.
“It’s just a really fun way for us to interact with children and expand the knowledge of science throughout our community,” said Rachel Grisham, a freshman in biology and a Sigma Delta Omega member.
“Teaching students, especially female students, about science is very important,” Haak said.
Taylor McAnally, a freshman in human development and education, helped children learn about light, reflectivity and temperature.
“They get a chance to come play and really learn one-on-one with hands-on stuff,” McAnally said.
For Abdu Alyajouri, a second grader from Franklin elementary school, it was his sixth time at Discovery Days. His favorite station was one that involved static electricity because he “got to shock people,” he said.
Sophia Bell, another second grader at Franklin, also said she liked the static station.
“I like the static one because it’s really fun to shock people,” Bell said.
Bell said she likes science and wants to be a teacher.
Discovery Days continues from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday.
McKinley Smith, news reporter