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UA students teach kids about science

EVAN CARAVELLI / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Students from Laguna Elementary walk across the UA Mall to their school busses after partaking in "Science Day", which included an egg-dropping contest at the Koffler building and informational videos at the Flandrau Center.
By Anthony D. Ávila
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, February 21, 2005
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Science was mixed with some fun Friday, when 230 fourth graders participated in interactive science activities during "Science Day" at the UA.

Organized for the 13th year by the Society of Professional Hispanic Engineers, Science Day is for kids to learn about the field of science and is designed to encourage them to pursue a higher education at a community college or four-year university, said Armando Lopez, organizer of Science Day and a vice president of SPHE.

Fourth grade students from four elementary schools in the Flowing Wells School District visited the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium, and completed experiments in the Student Union Memorial Center, said Lopez, a civil engineering sophomore.

The most talked-about activity was the egg drop, where participants created a protective covering around an egg using straws and paper, and then got to drop the eggs off the Koffler building, Lopez said.

"A couple of them actually didn't break, so that was really good," Lopez said.

At Flandrau, the kids watched an animated video called "Rusty Rocket." The multimedia presentation showed aspects about exploring space and planets, Lopez said.

The video wasn't entirely interactive, but the children got to count down for Rusty Rocket's blastoff and also shouted answers to questions Rusty asked about the planets, said Melissa Williams, education programs manager at Flandrau.

When Lopez asked the children to quote facts from the video, they remembered Jupiter was the biggest planet and four planets had rings.

Nine-year-old Alicia Barrios from Laguna Elementary said the science day was fun and she liked working with her classmates.

"You don't have to think by yourself because other people can help you," Barrios said.

Barrios said she was glad the SHPE students organized the event.

"That's cool they did that," Barrios said. "Some people don't like science and they can know science can be fun, too."

Barrios said her suggestion for next year is to have different activities and to use more than three chemicals during the science experiments.

Barrios has two older siblings in the Flowing Wells school district. Luz Barrios, Alicia Barrios' mother, said she volunteered to chaperone after Alicia asked her.

"It's nice," Luz Barrios said. "I'm glad she got to experience this."

Amanda Roberts, Alicia Barrio's teacher, said the day was fun, but there could have been more organization, such as providing a schedule for the teachers so they know what to expect.

Roberts, who graduated from the UA in 2001 with an elementary education degree, agreed the students had a lot of fun, especially with the egg drop experiment.

Also, the kids' interaction with college students could make a significant impact on their decision to attend college in the future, Roberts said.

"When they are surrounded by people who expect them to be successful in higher education, they'll have that expectation themselves," Roberts said.

There are 60 members of SHPE, and about 15 members helped out with Science Day, Lopez said.

The other schools whose students participated were Richardson Elementary, Centennial Elementary and Walter Douglas Elementary.

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