Setting an Example: Launching in New York with Trick-or-Treat for Science Day

On October 31st (Yep - Halloween!) New York's science educators & g4g's Project Manager, Andrea Urmston, at Circleville Elementary lead what was an inspiring event for all classrooms to follow. Her words describe it best:

What do you get when you take the following and mix well: 87 eager 5th graders in pajamas, 6 enthusiastic teachers (also in pajamas), 4 transformed classrooms, notebooks and glow sticks, and HALLOWEEN?...

You get an amazing day of inquiry, discovery, teamwork, learning, and FUN!

 Rotating from classroom to classroom throughout the day, students enjoyed each of the four activities:

·       Candy structure engineering (toothpicks, marshmallows, and Starburst candies): What shape created the strongest base? How tall could you build your candy structure?

·       Salt dough recipe math: What proportion of flour and salt would create the best dough? How much water was needed to make it work? What science or Halloween cookie cutter shapes were the coolest?

·       Buoyancy and dissolving pumpkins: Would gumdrop pumpkins sink or float in water, vinegar, seltzer, or oil? What would happen to the pumpkins after sitting in each solution?

·       Static electricity: Make tissue paper bats, pumpkins, and ghosts dance with the power of static electricity. Does long hair produce more static electricity than short hair? Does it matter how long you rub the balloon on your hair? Do different types of paper create better results?

 When you work with a collaborative team of educators, it is easy to make an event like this happen. We also got to know the other students on our grade level, which made us even more of a team within our school. The students really enjoyed being scientists and took the experiments seriously, despite the fact that they were in their pajamas on Halloween. Insightful predictions were made and many surprising outcomes were noted. It just might be possible that the teachers enjoyed the day as much as, or maybe even more than, the students. Nothing inspires a teacher more than those moments when you see the spark of learning ignite. This event was full of sparks. Of course, the chance to enjoy some candy while learning is always a bonus!

 Due to financial constraints in our district recently, we do not have the luxury of as many assemblies, guest speakers, and programs as we once did. It is encouraging to know that organizations like Greenlight for Girls are there to help bring engaging learning opportunities to our students, as well as those all over the world. We were both proud and fortunate to be the first to host such an event; without pioneers, the STEM world would not exist. Someone has to take the first step…

Overheard that day:

 After donning a lab coat, “Wow, I feel like an actual scientist now! Where can I get one of these?”

 “This was so much fun. We finally got to have some hands-on science time.” 

 “Now I want to be an engineer.”

 “Our pumpkins are shrinking!”

 “If you put in too much of one substance, the recipe will not work.”

 “I never knew math and science could be so much fun!”

 “5th grade is the best. We never got to do fun things like this in other grades.”

 “When can we do this again?” 

Our response to the last one - SOON!

For a look at our press release from the event, click here.