Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Science on the Street on the Cape or how my six year old and I bonded

I spent Saturday afternoon at the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History participating in the Cambridge Science Festival, Science on the Street STEM outreach event. This was an event I had planned to attend with my family but instead we ended up as exhibitors, representing the American Chemical Society. My eight year old daughter enjoys the VIP experience of working at a science festivals for several reasons: getting there before the public is allowed to enter, as the kid of a volunteer she gets to check out and try all the cool activities before everyone else since the other exhibitors are eager to practice on a real kid before the rush and the best is of course having a place to come and rest between doing fun activities. 

Since both of my girls had planned to assist me at the ACS table, I told each of their teachers about it. The second grade teacher suggested I make a flyer that she would send home with the students in the class plugging the event with a call-out box stating that their classmate would be at the Chemistry Table and we hoped to see them there. As a result of the flyer, my six year old had one classmate attend and my eight year old had two classmates attend. My friend's mother who is a Naturalist and had business at the Museum in the morning stuck around to see us setup since her daughter saw on Facebook that we'd be there. She also noted with a wink that she already knew because she saw it on Twitter. Other friends of ours stopped by because they saw my Facebook posts about it. There was something really special to me and to my girls about seeing so many friends at this event in our community. Oftentimes when we are assisting at Local Section outreach events they are in Boston or Cambridge and have a sort of anonymity to them. 

A retired chemist ACS member appeared at my table. He was delighted to see ACS at the event and wondered if we were down the Cape or had come from Boston? I gave him all my contact information and told him about our NESACS Cape Cod Science Cafe events. I would have liked to have spoken to him longer but I had a table full of pint-sized chemists demanding my attention. 

First they were asked if they wanted to do some chemistry and then if they answered yes were instructed to wear goggles to protect their eyes since we were working with liquids. Then if they didn't know how to use an eyedropper (many didn't since most kids were between ages 3-7) they got to practice with it before squeezing drops onto the pH paper, matching the color change portion of the strip with the pH color number chart and then using a meter to compare the results. I was able to have five kids at a time conduct their experiments at my table with the help of my six year old who cleaned up between experiments, assisted children who needed it (even kids older than herself) and kept restocking the Kids Discover Chemistry Magazines

Of course I was met during the one brief lull with a concerned citizen who was inquiring as to whether or not it was *safe* to expose children to toxic chemicals. She gestured towards my red flask which was full of salt water from Barnstable Harbor. And then to the purple flask full of cabbage juice then to the green one with vinegar, well you get the picture. She wandered away from the table looking relieved. 

Before my six year old went to sleep that night she told me that today's festival was the best one we have ever done. It was her favorite. I told her it was my favorite too. Some serious mother-daughter bonding took place while working the chemistry table together. I'm glad we decided to volunteer instead of just attend. Sometimes it really pays to be a VIP. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice post !! Really nice experience to read your blog i think u got a great experience form the Cape Cod Museum. keep your good work doing
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