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Science is fun in Voorhees

Everyone knows that science can be fun. But last week, students at Signal Hill Elementary School saw some first-hand fun of their own.

Students from preschool to fifth-grade participated in the 13th annual Signal Hill Science Day.

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A science fair may conjure images of chemistry lab explosions and magnetic fields, but this was no regular science-filled day.

Community professionals and parents volunteered their time to teach students about numerous topics — from land to sea and everything in between.

This year, preschool students were invited to participate in the event for the first time and were treated to a presentation from the New Jersey for Aquatic Sciences, which included live horseshoe crabs and sea stars.

Youngsters were able to touch the animals, dress up as lobsters and turtles and parade around the auditorium with stuffed penguins, seals and turtles.

“Children were so actively involved through the who thing, touching all the animals,” said Maddie Silverman, a teacher of 3-year-old preschoolers.

First-graders learned about dentistry from Voorhees parent Dr. Randi Lempert.

Students also heard from Signal Hill parent and New Jersey Department of Education science coordinator Mike Heinz, who guided children through building paper rockets. Voorhees Middle School special education teacher John Shea also gave a presentation to first-graders about eating and harvesting healthy fruits and vegetables.

First-grader Darren Trinetto said he enjoyed the lessons he and his classmates received during Science Day, especially the presentation on rockets.

“We made a paper rocket ship and blew it with a straw,” Trinetto said. “Science Day is more fun than a regular school day.”

Second-graders still learned about the three R’s — Reduce, Reuse and Recycle — even though Camden County Division of Environmental Affairs Education Coordinator Maggi Liebe had to cancel at the last minute.

Two Signal Hill parents stepped up and volunteered to teach the class.

The students also met in the gym to hear from staff at the Voorhees Pediatric Facility, which gave second-graders an opportunity to see what it’s like to live with a disability.

The class also heard from Tina Fiorentino and Harry Epstein of the Little Rock Foundation, who spoke to the second graders about blindness.

Second-grader Caitlin Flewelling said the best part of her day was getting to pet the seeing-eye dog.

“They talked about being blind. We met the dog, a German Shepherd, and they talked about his training and how he went to a special school,” she said.

Third-graders learned about the brain’s functions from recent University of Pennsylvania graduate Katie Kopil. The class also relaxed with Veronica Parker, Signal Hill mom and Happy Hearts Yoga Instructor.

The Sambulance also rolled in, bringing safety tips and first-aid know how from Sahara Sam’s Oasis Indoor Water Park squad members Katie Field, Luis Rivera and Dante Magazzu.

Third-grader Melanie Grainger said the yoga presentation was at the top of her list. She said she learned that breathing in while lying down can release many worries and anxieties.

“The day was better,” Grainger said. “We don’t have to learn in a boring way.”

Fourth-graders enjoyed a hands-on presentation.

Signal Hill parent and engineer Bill Slaven. Another Signal Hill parent, Jonathan Jaffe, taught students about the science of flight.

Beth Garcia from the Environmental Protection Agency taught students about composting and then gave them the chance to make their own compost pile in the outdoor classroom.

She said she hopes students take the message of composting home to their families.

“It’s great. Students take it back home, they’re like sponges. They take it to their parents to educate them,” Garcia said. “This is what they can do to make a difference.”

Fifth-graders learned about aviation and space from Mary Lou Dordan, an employee of the Federal Aviation Administration and even wore her jumpsuit to class.

The students also got a fitness workout from Signal Hill mom Lisa Eichen and a lesson on U.S. Navy warships from Signal Hill dad Lars Brown. Camden County College Assistant Dean Dr. Susan Choi shared her experiences as a polymer chemist with the fifth-graders.

After lunch, the school was treated to a laser light spectacular performance from Prismatic Magic.

Event coordinator and Signal Hill parent Liz Byham said Science Day was a success for students, staff and parents.

“They loved it. It’s great. The kids get really excited. It’s different from their daily routine and what better way to learn? The more hands on the better,” Byham said.

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