With all of the cutting edge inventions conceived in Silicon Valley, one has to assume innovation pours out of the kitchen sink like tap water. It definitely seems like something’s fortifying the H2O in the households of Burlingame’s Washington Elementary School. How else can one describe the amazing day of science organized and orchestrated by a small team of parent volunteers that turned strawberries into DNA samples; combined 9 volt batteries into connectors that work like electromagnets; and yeast, dish soap, hydrogen peroxide and food coloring into elephant sized toothpaste?
The Washington Elementary Dad’s club put on its third annual Discovery Day event recently, transforming the classrooms and playground of 801 Howard Avenue in Burlingame into a scientific laboratory for 145 kindergarten through fifth graders. The event kicked off with a show of engaging experiments each one teaching a chemical, physical or biological lesson. The audience saw how after they stared at a black and white spiral spinning clockwise for 30 seconds then shifted their focus to the master of ceremonies, his head appeared to be shrinking. The program jumped from neurological biology to physics where a plastic bottle filled half with water and chunks of dry ice was capped and dropped into a PVC pipe. The MC dropped a tennis ball on top. The melting dry ice created pressure in the bottle shooting the tennis ball over the school building.
The learning continued throughout the afternoon where students built three foot geodesic domes out of newspaper and launched plastic rockets they assembled using a solution of baking soda and vinegar to shoot them into the school yard. They studied marine biology with coral kits and the ecology of a rainforest with kits borrowed the Academy of Science. They also had the opportunity to play with polymers, food science and paper chromatography.
Perhaps the most memorable scene from the day was the demonstration of sublimation. (Known in Internet circles as the Coke and Mentos trick.) Lined across the blacktop were 120 bottles of Coke. At the count of three the kids dropped their mints into the bottles forcing the liquid to spew out like the waterfalls at the Hotel Bellagio in Las Vegas.
Last week GOOD Education asked if schools don’t teach science in our elementary schools, where will our next generation of scientist come from? Fortunately, the moms, dads and teachers of Washington are making science an ongoing study inside and outside the classroom. It’s an experiment to help water and grow the next generation of scientists.