Pupils aim for fun, facts on 'safari' Overnight science event planned at Bodkin school

March 07, 1997|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

This week, 10-year-old Ian MacFie, using an egg and a vase, showed the effects of air pressure. Meanwhile, 9-year-old Caitlin Garrahan showed the differences in liquid density of cooking oil, alcohol and glycerin.

Both students, who attend Bodkin Elementary School in Pasadena, voluntarily created science projects in hopes of being picked to participate in Science Safari, the first event of its kind in recent years in Anne Arundel County.

Ian and Caitlin were among the 60 students chosen for the event from about 100 third- , fourth- and fifth-grade candidates. The 60, whose projects for the school science fair were judged the best, will sleep over at the school tonight and work on experiments until they leave tomorrow.

Fourth-grade science teacher Jennifer Harris planned the Science Safari with other teachers looking for ways to make science more exciting.

"We use it as an incentive," said Harris, who is in a master's program in education at Loyola College in Baltimore. There, she said, "We heard about a lot of cool activities you can do to get your kids involved in science, and we decided to try it here at Bodkin."

Some ideas came from science magazines for children, others from her courses, she said.

"As far as I know, we have not done [a Science Safari] in the recent past," said Thomas Custer, science coordinator for the county's 76 public schools since 1980.

Ian, Caitlin and the others will take sleeping bags to school today, along with flashlights, teddy bears and toothbrushes.

At about 7 p.m., they will be served a science-themed dinner of Space Dogs and Crater Chips while "Star Trek" theme music plays. Then teacher volunteers, dressed as mad scientists, will head six stations where science projects not normally done in school will be conducted.

They are:

"Baffling Boxes," in which students will try to figure out what kind of cereal is inside wrapped boxes, using only the senses of sound and touch.

"Magnificent Microscope," in which they will observe living organisms such as paramecium and amoeba through microscopes.

"Tasty Temptations," in which they will learn what parts of the tongue taste bitterness, sweetness and sourness.

"It's a Mix-tery," in which students will filter dyes to determine what colors went into making a particular shade.

"To Clean or Not To Clean," in which they will test dish soap, laundry detergent, water and glass cleaner to see which will best clean lipstick off a handkerchief.

"Sticky-ometers," in which students will test honey, pancake syrup and peanut butter to see which works best as an adhesive.

Depending on the weather, students might go outside tonight to study the stars. The safari will end with a performance by a musician who sings about nature.

It all sounds good to Ian. "I'm looking forward to doing the experiments because I think it's going to be fun, and because I don't do experiments every day and I want to try out some new ones," he said.

To Custer, it sounds educational. "A lot of things we are doing in the overnight safari are not things that fall as easily in the regular curriculum," he said. "We wanted to raise their interest in science and see how fun and easy it can be."

Pub Date: 3/07/97

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