Our Science Night was quite a blast.Volunteers and students were the cast.Measuring trees with smiles and delight, and protecting nature with all their might!Our activities were clever, with art and a cartoon. Missed it? Don’t worry, there’s another one soon!
Our December Renovation for Innovation Science Night at Forestville Elementary School was filled with fun hands-on activities and engaging demonstrations, and even included a wild animal encounter! Organized by iSchool for the Future, the event introduced children to many innovative ways to care for and “Protect Our World,” the theme of the night. The December event also included several stations featuring local partner agencies and the work they do to protect the environment. A naturalist from Riverbend Park brought the backyard inside with a collection of local animal pelts, bones, skulls, and a laptop running photos captured on a “camera trap”. He also brought in a friendly snake that fascinating both young and old. Another partner from the Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District set up an EnviroScape model that simulated the movement of rainwater and pollution across a landscape. Children had lots of fun sprinkling “candy pollution” onto hills and valleys and learned that their backyards drain into streams and eventually the ocean. A group from the Kashmir World Foundation brought in a drone to demonstrate how technology can be used to protect wildlife from poachers and to help with monitoring. Forestville’s own Student Government led an iSchool station with a recycling sorting game to help the Forestville community learn more about what can be recycled at the school.
iSchool’s stations included a range of activities from cutting-edge technology to foundational science. Children observed 3D printers as small plastic animals came to life from computer designs, and tried their hand at computer programming using the program Scratch. As part of the programming challenge, children figured out combinations of code that would get an animal safely across the street. iSchool even brought a tree inside with a donated tree from Meadows Farms Nursery! Children measured the tree’s circumference and estimated its height (using the metric system) and used that information to calculate the amount of carbon stored in the tree. Children compared the amount of carbon in the tree to the amount they produce from various activities (such as watching TV), and quickly figured that that planting just a few trees a year can mitigate their own carbon output. Volunteers also helped children and adults use an online tool called “i-Tree Tools” to calculate the monetary value of trees on the school grounds. Also at the tree station, both children and adults were stumped and surprised to learn about the many day-to-day items that are “Goods from the Woods”.
Many stations encouraged creativity and innovative thinking. One station was about appreciating nature, and children created ornaments and keepsakes out of craft materials and recycling to show off the things in nature that they value. Children explored mathematical patterns in nature such as the Fibonacci Sequence and fractals. They cut out their very own “Frozen Fractal” snowflakes following the famous Koch Triangle pattern, and painted pine cone swirls that came in predictable Fibonacci numbers. The December event was also a celebration of color, with a Science of Sound station that included a colorful “water xylophone.” Children made music using recycled glass bottles and learned how sound travels differently in solids, liquids, and air. A chemistry station wowed participants with liquids that changed into unexpected colors by the addition of a purple cabbage juice pH indicator. Children also learned how scientists test water quality as a way to protect streams and the ocean.
Every iSchool for the Future activity also encourages development of emotional intelligence, and at the December Science Night children were asked to show appreciation, perseverance, and empathy for others (both human and animal). Other essential 21st Century Life Skills targeted were self-regulation, collaboration and teamwork, and communication.
The event was sponsored by the Forestville PTA. A group of over 20 volunteers, including Forestville parents and local community partners, helped set up and run each station. A big thank you goes to the PTA and our partners and volunteers!