Wednesday, June 16, 2010

2010 Science Olympiad

Every year, Mountain View Elementary School hosts their Science Olympiad.  This is when parent and industry volunteers come in to perform experiments with the kids' participation.  Becky and I volunteered for this last year, and we had so much fun, we didn't want to miss the chance again this year to participate.  The kids really get a lot out of these interactive science exhibits, and it's always nice to come in for a day and work with the fourth and fifth graders.

This year, the school had Dr. Presun Desai as a keynote speaker.  This is the gentleman who actually landed the NASA Mars rovers on the planet.  He works in the NASA Langley center, and goes all around the nation talking to kids in school.  His message?  Don't worry about making good grades, work hard and things will come to you.  Don't hesitate to "Dream Big" and take advantage of the wonderful opportunity we have in this country to do whatever it is we want to... as long as we are willing to WORK for it!  A good message.

Other exhibitors were folks from Virginia Game and Wildlife, showing various native taxidermied animals, a station on "Who polluted the Potomac?", the county sheriff deputies doing fingerprint analysis, aerospace engineering, hydraulics demonstrations, computers, etc.

In our station, I set up a distillation apparatus (why not?).  In the flask, I placed water with food coloring and sugar.  Then I boiled the water and produced for the kids clean distilled water.  I let them taste it before and after, so they could really see what we were dealing with.  Then we talked all about the three phases of matter (solid, liquid, gas), and about concepts like boiling points, freezing points, condensation, evaporation, and osmosis.  The kids had a blast, but I had to remind them to sit, sit, SIT!  Naturally, they kept wanting to touch all the glassware, and I didn't want any grabby fingers bringing down my glassware, which is ridiculously fragile.

All in all, it was a great day.  Next year is the last year that we're in this school before Luke graduates to middle school.  This has been such a wonderful school for the boys.  It will be sad when we leave it, never to come back.

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