Science wows Manzanita crowd

April 5, 2007

By hammersmith

[Source: Jeff Commings, Arizona Daily Star] — Erika Cook stood among a dozen of her classmates and marveled at the sight of nonfat dairy creamer bursting into flames. Like others around her, including the adults, she couldn’t quite describe watching a University of Arizona chemistry student pour the creamer directly into the flame of a blowtorch and feeling the instantaneous heat of the fire. And just a few feet away, she found a quick but expensive way to make ice cream: liquid nitrogen. “I didn’t know that chemical could make ice cream,” 9-year-old Erika said through a mouthful of freshly made ice cream.

Reactions like Erika’s were what teachers and parents were looking for at Manzanita Elementary School’s Science Night on March 29. The event used the expertise of students and professors with the University of Arizona’s Bio5 Science Education Outreach Program to teach elementary students about science and give them a chance to do hands-on experiments. With the federal government pressing schools to improve science proficiency in the next seven years, and Arizona piloting a science standardized test this month, getting kids interested in the diverse fields of science became more important this year.

“Any time that we can present science content with a hands-on focus, it becomes real to students,” said Principal Colleen Nichols. “It’s more theoretical when they read it out of a book.” [Note: To read the full article, click here.]