Science Matters in Cherry Hill
The days are getting warmer and longer. The school year is winding down. Summer is just around the corner.
And even though the kids can’t wait for that final school bell to ring, there are still a few weeks of learning left.
And what better way is there to learn than through hands-on science experimentation and exploration?
That’s exactly what teachers, staff and PTA parents at Richard Stockton Elementary School believe.
Now in its 17th year, the school recently hosted its annual Science Matters Day, a chance for first through fifth grade students to not just learn about science, but to live it.
“Children are excited about the day and remember it year after year,” said Stockton Principal Eloisa DeJesus-Woodruff. “It gives students the chance to engage.”
Students at all grade levels were treated to science in some form or another.
Kindergartners participated in Paws on Wheels, a hands-on presentation from Paws Farm.
First-graders learned how to make their own cars from mousetraps with Stockton parent and chemist Shawn Watson. Another Stockton parent, ER Dr. Dawn Yoon, got students moving and learning about nutrition. Carrie Kirk, another Stockton parent, taught the first-graders about Arctic wildlife, with the help of globes and flashlights.
Second-graders learned about bones and blood cells with Stockton dad Dr. Michael Levy. Scientists from “Mad Science” taught students about earthquakes and natural faults, while Stockton dad Frank Acito brought electricity to life with a few fun and simple experiments.
“I love it. I’m a financial planner, so I love when I get to do this,” Acito said.
Acito has been participating in Science Matters Day for 12 years. He’s got the routine down. On science day, he goes only by Professor Franklin, even donning a lab coat and nerdy science glasses.
Third-graders were treated to a lesson from Cherry Hill West teacher Michelle Freundich, who helped students test the growth rate of “Magic” sponge capsules. Stockton mom Julie Winkler didn’t wrap any students up, but she did teach them about mummies. The students also gained insight on how bugs see the world by learning about their eyesight and they way they protect themselves.
Fourth-graders had the opportunity to hear from a FBI special agent, who used fingerprinting, artist renderings and even crime tape. The students also met Stockton dad and Campbell’s Soup Food Scientist Jason Beecher, who discussed food chemical reactions, health and nutrition.
Fifth-graders had the opportunity to “experience” what it feels like to sustain injuries in a class on disabilities awareness.
Stockton parent alums Marci Ruediger, a physical therapist and director of performance improvement and Magee Rehabilitation, along with Rose Orichowskyj, a speech language pathologist and Stockton parent Amy Kramer led the presentation.
All in all, the day was a success, said Science Matters Day Committee co-chairwoman Nora Downey.
She and English Pike helped to coordinate the event, which also included a school-wide assembly on the magic of science, as well as a teacher and presenter appreciation luncheon.
The main objective in continuing to host the event at the school is to bring people who love science into the classroom for students to meet.
And a big part of that goal was met from within the community. Most of the presenters were neighbors or parents who were ready and willing to make science fun for the students.
Downey said her own two children, Stockton second grader Aidan Dold and kindergartener Madeline Dold, were counting down the days until Science Matters Day.
“Teachers say it’s their favorite day. Everyone spices it up to make it fun,” Downey said.
Michael Wyant, a presenter from the Mad Science organization, taught students about man-made magnets and natural magnets, like Earth and Mars, as well as magnetic fields. He said the students were more than willing to indulge in the hands-on activities.
“Overall, this was one of the best experiences I’ve had,” Wyant said.
In one experiment, Wyant asked students if they could see the magnetic field surrounding the magnet. (Of course, you can’t see that).
“If kids could see that, then maybe they need a scientist to check out their eyes,” Wyant joked. “Overall, it was a fun experience.”