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Science in the Summer – Kids keep learning while school’s out

 by Tianna Grosch

Science in the Summer (SIS) programs offer elementary school kids a chance to learn and engage with different scientific skillsets using real-world applications while combatting the “summer slide” when students lose their learning momentum during school break.

Now in the program’s 32nd year, the theme of “Science in Space” featured numerous exciting workshops.

SIS is run by professional teachers who understand the educational process, such as Elizabeth “Liz” James, a young teacher who has participated in the SIS program for the past two years.

Liz led one such class held at Fallsington Library, and expressed how much she enjoys the program and is sure she will continue in coming years.

“This gives me something to do in the summer, to continue helping kids learn and promote the sciences,” said Liz. “It’s very rewarding.”

A general science and biology teacher in middle and high school, Liz enjoys the opportunity to continue spreading her love for science throughout the summer months with younger groups of children.

During the final class of this year’s SIS program, students created homemade rockets in two separate workshops – first, using empty film canisters filled with antacids and water, and next, a straw with paper fins taped to the bottom and a molded clay top to make it airtight.

Students journeyed outside with Miss James to test and launch their rockets.

This program is more than just fun and games – it uses physics and other science to teach kids about velocity, the effect of gravity on moving objects, and more.

At the end of each class session, teachers give an overview of careers that kids who are interested in science can go into – for this class Miss James shared the jobs of rocket scientist and photographer.

The SIS program also works to increase literacy in science.

Multiple books are donated to libraries that coincide with the scientific teachings of the program, offering a feast of knowledge for children to devour.

Curriculum includes activities that can be repeated at home, like the rockets created in the final class.

SIS is a free, grant-funded STEM enrichment program for elementary school students from second to sixth grade.

The programs are so popular, often students who participate will return to the library as volunteers for SIS in later years.

One such volunteer, Krishna, helped in Miss James’s class and was on hand for assistance of rocket-building and safe launching.

Everyone at the libraries gets excited to be involved with the SIS program, including Youth Services Consultant Mary Catherine Bluder, who travels to all the libraries in Bucks County.

“Many of our libraries are community libraries such as Fallsington,” Mary said. “We are in the community, not on the edge.”

Bringing the community together has always been an important task of libraries and is no different with the introduction of these stimulating SIS programs.

“I love science,” said Faye, a participant in one of Miss James’s classes. “Everything about it.”

She was enthusiastic in her creation of rockets and said that although she “didn’t really” learn anything new, she was really enjoying herself.

Miss James asked the kids to describe what happened during the chemical reaction of their first rockets (the water with antacids).

Kids described the fizzing sound and bubbles that started leaking from the empty canisters and Miss James linked these to scientific reactions.

For more information on this program and its curricula, visit http://scienceinthesummer.com/activities.html.