By RJ Walters / For the Jackson Citizen Patriot
When the timeless trick of putting Mentos mints in soda is the highlight of an event, it’s bound to be a success. Tuesday’s Family Science Night at Miller Elementary School near Brooklyn was no exception.
An overwhelming “whoa!” was the reaction from kids and parents alike every time the soda geyser erupted, but it was just one highlight on an evening that Miller Principal Geoff Bontrager said was created to give parents a better understanding of the interactive learning that takes place each day.
There were 11 science stations in all, including a place to make “slime,” a dry ice station that showed how the solid carbon dioxide could inflate a balloon and an “egg in the bottle” demonstration that showed kids how pressure affects objects.
Giving that presentation was the former owner of Mad Science of South Central Michigan, Lynn Kalchik, who helped Miller teacher Carol Moran organize the event.
“We went through a list of demonstrations that were relatively exciting and hands on,” Moran said. “You know, things kids can get ooey gooey with and have some fun.”
They also wanted an activity related to ecology, so they set up an “oil spill cleanup” experiment, where kids used items like cotton balls, eyedroppers and paper towels to try to extract vegetable oil from the top of a container filled with water.
Moran said Miller is an officially designated Michigan Green School, and such exhibitions help the school retain that title.
Bob Renfer and his fourth-grade daughter, Rylee, learned firsthand how difficult it was to separate the oil from the water, but Bob said it makes sense because of all of the images he has seen of the Gulf Coast on television.
The Renfers live in Somerset, but Bob said it is initiatives like this that reaffirm his decision to send Rylee to Miller through Schools of Choice.
“It’s exciting to see what she’s learning, and the activities are great,” Renfer said. “Science wasn’t my best subject when I was a student, so I am learning a few things being here with her.”
Bontrager said Tuesday’s event was the kickoff for the rest of the school year’s events. A nursery rhyme night, geography night, art night and math madness week are still to come.
“We’ve tried to incorporate as many of these kind of nights as possible to try to help the parents understand some of the curriculum better,” he said.