Supporting Our Community's Children

Hellbeck Elementary School recently held its first science fair in several years. In selecting the judges the administration chose many professionals from the local community, ranging in scope from State Honor Roll members and science teachers of other elementary schools in Pueblo to U.S. Army Engineers, technology experts and scientists involved in space programs.

MPEC’s own Co-Program Director, John Oates had the honor of being one of those invited. Apparently many of the Fifth Graders who have had Ranger John as their Environmental Educator in the Earth Studies program suggested that Hellbeck invite him to be a judge at the event. He accepted the invitation with pride.

Ranger John Oates asked me if I would accompany him to this event merely for the company, however, when we finished the meet and greet with the faculty and other judges, it became evident that they were short one judge and I was invited to be a stand-in judge.

We were greeted with smiling salutations; the students were happy to see their Rangers from MPEC at their school for an event some of them had worked on diligently. For the Rangers, it is always a joy to meet the Earth Studies students out and about in public settings, but this was a bit more special because it was an event many of them were proud of.

Being a science fair, the range of experiments and displays was quite varied. Many were in the category of biology, chemistry and physics. One part of Hellbeck Elementary Schools’ science fair that I liked was the inclusion of an Application section for each project. This enabled the students to consider and explain how they felt the findings of their experiment could be applied to society; they were expected to imagine and express how their findings can help us. One student, whose experiment dealt with the purification of discolored salt water through the process of evaporation and collection, noted when I spoke with him about helping the world have more clean drinking water. Another student did an experiment which combined water and oil and a fizzy antacid tablet; when I inquired about her inspiration for this experiment she commented that the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico weighed heavy in her mind this year and she wanted to do some experiments with oil and water in hopes of learning more about them with hopes of a clean-up solution in mind. It was great to see these students breaking out of the clich├ęd ideas for science fair experiments (I did not see one volcano) and actually doing experiments pertaining to current events and challenges of the contemporary world.

It was also a great opportunity to engage with Fourth Graders who will be involved in MPEC’s Earth Studies Program next year, answering their questions about the program and getting them excited about it. It was also a great honor to be involved in the science fair and to engage with these students in another aspect of their lives, their education and their scientific eagerness and creativity. We are very grateful to Hellbeck Elementary School for this opportunity by inviting MPEC to be a further part of these children’s development; after all, it takes a village, right?

~David A. Martin

No comments: