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How many water drops does a cloud hold? Jesse Bakula and Anders Dafoe are trying to answer the question by completing an experiment in which they use an eye-dropper and a cotton ball. Next to them, a second team-Sean Healy and Avery Hagen-are working on the same problem. Within the next few minutes, they will have their answer and then they will move on to the next weather experiment.
These four, and all the kindergarten students at Jeffrey School, were spending an hour in the school gymnasium last week moving from table to table undertaking experiments that would teach them about clouds, wind, raindrops, and weather. They were having a wonderful time.
Welcome to the Jeffrey Elementary School's first-ever, week-long Science-Palooza. Last spring Happy Martino, the parent of twins, attended the Ryerson Elementary School's second annual science week. One of her daughters attends Ryerson, the other Jeffrey. Ryerson's science week, jam-packed with hands-on learning and fun for both students and families, was such a success that Martino wanted to bring the same experience to Jeffrey.
A group of parents began to discuss the idea during the last year, continued the discussions over the summer and decided to present a proposal to Principal Kathryn Hart.
"We were interested in bringing science to our kids, to show them ways that science touches their lives every day," Martino said.
Hart quickly agreed.
"I loved the idea. My background is in math and I love the idea of integrating science into our other studies more actively for a full week. Even for our kindergarten students, the learning is such fun," Hart said. "Earlier in the day, we had a parent teaching 1st graders about molecules, and there they were with aprons and gloves on working with test tubes. It was amazing to watch."
Stephanie Wheeler and Katie Stein, the parents who planned the entire week of Science-Palooza, followed the example of organizers at Ryerson. They invited Jeffrey's parent community to become part of the program.
Stein said, "We put out a call to parents, asking for experts among them. At first we were a bit nervous, but so many enthusiastically stepped up."
Parents moved into the classrooms to explain and lead experiments in such topics as molecules and electricity and the solar system-and bugs and frogs and sharks. Wheeler and Stein also asked for parent volunteers in the classrooms during this week. Again, the response was overwhelming.
And the co-chairs also relied upon local mom Claudia Esposito, who is the founder and director of Cool-ology, a Madison company that provides hands-on, inquiry-based learning experiences that get kids excited about science. Looking around the Jeffrey School gymnasium filled with kindergarten students one afternoon last week, watching them conduct their experiments and listening to the laughter would convince any adult that science can be fun.