‘Spring into Science’ offers children access to science discovery
Around 70 children in grades first through fifth recently had the opportunity to experience science first-hand at “Spring into Science,” an event hosted by the Auburn chapter of Graduate Women in Science (GWIS).
The annual event was hosted at the AMSTI-AU building in Opelika on April 20. The graduate students hosted 20 stations through which they demonstrated the wonders of science that ranged from the movement of animals, the chemistry behind candy, and how rockets are blasted into space.
Cara Brittain, the GWIS outreach coordinator, said the event went extremely well.
“Every time I looked around, children were enthusiastically engaging with the table hosts,” she said, adding that the graduate students, post-docs, and faculty that volunteered at the event enjoyed it as well. “Several told me - and this is how I feel too - that ‘Spring into Science’ and ‘Jr. Mad Scientist’ (our fall outreach event) are their favorite events they participate in all year. They love seeing the kids get excited about STEM.”
This year’s event was modified a bit due to COVID-19 regulations, which changed how the event flowed. Two separate time slots were offered for participants at 5:30-6:15 p.m. or 6:30-7:15 p.m.
“We had to be mindful of social distancing, so we created time slots for participants to arrive in and only allowed one family group at a table at a time,” Brittain said. “In a way, this improved the experience because students engaged more with the table hosts, and the scientists and engineers were able to slow down and explain the principles behind the demonstration.”
Brittain explained that GWIS focuses on outreach events such as “Spring into Science” to help kids in our community, no matter who they are, see that they can be a scientist or engineer too.
“They also get to see some wonderful, cool science demonstrations,” she said. “This gets them more excited to learn about STEM. The table hosts are encouraged to tie their own research into their demonstration. In this way, participants can see what research is going on at the university and how basic science can be used to ask and answer unknown questions.”