Kids are fascinated by (non-venomous) snakes … by making their own creations … by science experiments of all types, especially if they fizz onto the sidewalk, launch up into the sky or parachute down a story or two.
At Saturday’s inaugural UNCG Science Everywhere festival held at several locations on the UNCG campus, Triad families had a fun-filled day of all types of science.
“Wow.” “Oh!” “Neat.”Those were among of the most-heard reactions of the day.
Most of the festival moved indoors, due to a light rain, for a cozy, dry and fun inaugural UNCG Science Festival Everywhere.
Steve Ollison, one of our GK-12 teachers in High Point, brought 20 students, Sametz said. “He was having a blast, as were his students.”
“We counted over 800 community members – we were using counters when folks checked in,” Dr. Lynn Sametz said. She is GK-12 Project Director, HERP Project Director and RISE Network Facilitator at UNCG. Due to the rain and knowing that many did not take time to stop by a welcome tent, obviously the attendance was greater than that. “Maybe 1,000 – great for a first time event.”
The organizers had about 235 volunteers and activity leaders from across campus taking part. Many faculty and deans were leading the activities, as were UNCG and high school students. (See some photos of event.)
Everyone involved had favorite memories:
“I loved seeing parents and children playing with science together on the floors (and tables) of the classrooms in the School of Education Building – and I loved the enthusiasm of the Herpetology Club members talking about their snakes,” said Dr. Carol Seaman (Mathematics & Statistics).
At the School of Education Building, Matt Fisher was in the SELF Design Studio.
He liked that the festival gave the school’s pre-service teachers an opportunity to teach children in an untraditional setting. “I also thought it was really interesting and intriguing to hear how children described the junk / scrap sculptures they were building in the makerspace. Their imaginations were quite amazing!”
The festival was a blending of campus resources, Sametz notes. “Just look at all the departments that contributed time and effort,” she said. And “three different National Science Foundation funded projects participated – GK-12, STAMPS and HERPS – as well as the Project Enrich/SELF Design studio. And of course the Provost and the NC Science festival provided funding.”
Dr. Heidi Carlone was struck by the kids’ focus and persistence during the activities. “Some stayed at a given activity for up to 45 minutes! … Youths’ engagement with science and engineering activities at the Science Everywhere festival clearly demonstrates that youth, even those who are very young, can and do focus and problem solve.”
At each welcome table were simple flyers for all the UNCG-related summer camps, as well – a continuing community resource for area families.
One parent told a graduate assistant volunteer, “You kept my three-year-old busy all afternoon. How do you do that?” Her response was: “It’s science.”
“The most common phrase I heard from the community attendees was, “When are you doing this again?!” said Dr. Heidi Carlone. “One of our three-year-old participants said, “I’ll be back tomorrow.”
Sametz heard the inquiries about future science festivals. “It is all a matter of money … and time,” Sametz said, “but I hope so!”
“And, just think of how many people might come if the weather is wonderful.”
By Mike Harris
Photograph by Martin Kane