Potato Panic! Science Night @ Lincoln School, Brookline

How often do you get to see a little one’s face literally light up? 🙂

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This picture was taken towards the beginning of a Girls Science Club activity, but by the end Maria was a flurry of hands switching the cables, adding pennies, connecting alligator clips between positive and negative nails.

Last week I coordinated the Girls Science Club and the Biogeoscience Outreach Committee visiting the William H. Lincoln Elementary School in Brookline, MA. Six of us piled into our department van with our gear and signs and made our way over to set up a sediment drainage experiment, phenolics visuals, and a potato battery experiment. I mostly stayed at the Girls Science Club potato experiment and we got a ton of traffic!

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It was an intense two hours on a Friday night, but totally worth it. We definitely got it down by the end. Angela and I would have the kids making basic circuits, understanding that the current goes from negative to positive, and lighting up light bulbs with batteries. Then we’d send them to the potato/fruit side of the potato where Divya and Will would explain why potatoes can also light up little light bulbs and the different kinds of nails that had to be used.

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It’s funny to think back to when I was making circuits and lighting up light bulbs. I remember not understanding how circuits work, so it was great to, with that in mind, try and explain it to kids. Some of them really ran with it. There was one kid who worked through when we ended until the last moment when we had to take the last volt meter, light, and battery he was working with before walking out the door. It was truly inspiring.

This is a related, inspiring side story, but the weekend before this I spoke to a close friend who grew up in this area. When I was telling her about the Girls Science Club that I’m running and the Science Night, she made a point of telling me that people like me make a huge difference to these kids. She remembers the cool college kids who would come and do science experiments with her from all the universities near by and felt like they really influenced her perception and experience. It was absolutely thrilling and very encouraging to hear!

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