A zipline swooped through Room 23 at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School on Feb. 1, as a crowd of budding scientists tried to propel a pair of teddy bears safely along the line, one of several experiments at Science Fun Night.
The second-grade scientists had to figure out how to assemble an assortment of paper cups, Scotch tape, paper clips and other supplies into an effective zipline carrier. But it was a simple task, according to science aficionado Emerson Pinero. “I thought it was going to work,” said the second-grader, decked out in a pair of rubber goggles and a white lab coat.
As he shared the specifics about the zipline experiment, showing off his expertly designed teddy bear carrier, Emerson’s face lit up. “My favorite thing about tonight is this,” he said.
Five classes of second-graders joined Emerson to complete a series of science experiments during the school’s annual science night. The students, accompanied by parents and faculty members, also had an opportunity to meet and work with the “big kids,” a group of high school seniors from the district’s chapter of the National Science Honor Society.
The evening was organized by Regina D’Orio, the school’s science and technology teacher, who assembled a series of five science projects, including the zipline, for the students to complete.
Each project, set up in a different classroom, offered a variety of science lessons. Students examined their fingerprints, observing the differences in the swirls and loops in different people’s prints, and learned how many drops of water can fit on various coins — which they may have not known was a lesson on molecules and density. They also worked as engineers, figuring out how to assemble a glider made of straws and paper hoops, and make it fly. The activity revealed how different sized wings can be better for different types of flight. For example, an airplane’s wings that have small flaps that move up and down to help it turn function quiet differently than an eagles long, feathery wingspan.
One of the most exciting experiments, according to several second-graders, was the erupting, bubbling blob. In this experiment, they combined water, oil and a fizzling color tablet inside a test tube. They shook the test tubes as hard as they could, but no matter how fast they tried to mix the ingredients together, the water refused to blend with the oil. Instead, the food color dissolved in the water, while small drops of oil wandered up to the surface — showing the students that oil is denser than water.
Future scientist Amelia Fernandez said the erupting, bubbling blob was her favorite experiment of the night. “It’s really cool,” she said, “because you notice that when you shake it up it changes color. “
Amelia said she only had one disappointment — no giant eruptions occurred, as the name of the project suggested. “It would have been really fun and cool if it exploded,” she explained, adding that she wanted it to. “I thought that’s why we had to wear goggles.”
Amelia’s father, Pablo Fernandez, something of an erupting, bubbling blob expert, was experiencing his second science night, having previously accompanied his oldest son, Ethan. The zip-line exercise was the only new experiment, Fernandez said.
“I liked this one too,” he said, referring to the oil and water experiment. “It was a lot of fun to do.”
Like Fernandez, the Oyster Bay High School student volunteers representing the National Science Honor Society also had previous experience with the experiments — many years ago when they were in elementary school.
“It was a really cool experience to do [the experiments] again,” said Jessica Layne, a senior.
Maggie McNamara, also a senior, agreed. “It was really nostalgic coming back.”
Janna Ostroff, Theodore Roosevelt’s supervisor of science and technology for instruction, and D’Orio said the science night is their favorite activity of the year because of the excitement it generates for science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“It’s nice when the community comes together and gets excited about science and technology,” Ostroff also noted, while observing the zipline project.
“It’s really all about having fun, answering questions and working together,” D’Orio added. “It’s a really popular night.”