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Imagine It, Explore It!

By Staff | Aug 9, 2011

Instructor, Edie Shull demonstrates the 'Bernoulli' Principle (air pushes, never pulls or sucks) to several students during the NASA Summer Innovation Program held at Myers Elementary School last week.

MUNCY – Using materials provided to them, over 55 students were registered to attend a week of fun-filled science activities at Myers Elementary school under NASA’s Summer Innovative program. The program was funded through a grant from NASA who provided supplies for the daily programs that ran from 8 to 4. “The only cost for the students was $10 for a t-shirt,” said Dr. Portia Brandt who announced that three teachers, Edie Shull, Woody Fry and Mark Temons conducted the workshops after attending the NASA (National Aeronautics Space Association) program at Immaculata College to instruct the kids throughout the week.

Christopher Houseknecht was excited to see if his rocket would be “the most efficient ship to get to Mars,” as he explained how he buried an egg within his rocket balloon. “We set it at a 118 gram limit,” he said after doing several experiments to see how light of a rocket ship he could make that would launch and land safely on its “pad” (a concrete cement pad in the playground outside the building.) “The first day we made volcanoes,” said Kacie Smith. “It was messy. The mess was the fun, though.” The kids worked individually at first then divided into groups to launch their aircraft. “On the second day we started building the air craft to go to Mars,” added Christopher.

“We were given al list that we could use any way we want,” said Jamie Sterner who showed everyone a list of materials that included a raw egg, 1 sq.yard of fabric, 5 ft. of string, a paper lunch bag, 2 to 3 balloons, 2 paper clips, 3 sheets of paper and masking tape. They were able to use the supplies they needed throughout the days. The experiments were geared for grades 4 through 9.

Sasha Mcnovigle said that on Monday, “We did experiments with water filters.” They made a funnel filtration system. “We learned from that,” Sasha said.

The children were encouraged by the instructors to learn from not only what went right with their experiments, but also what went wrong. By using props and hands-on activities they were able to draw conclusions. Mark Temons said that they were to simulate a live space mission and learn how to launch big ships from earth. “The 7th and 8th graders started individually as engineers,” Temons said, ” all using the same materials to launch their ‘ships’ on a concrete surface without the egg breaking. They deducted that the heavier it is, the more costly it is to fly, just like at NASA.” At the beginning the group saw a scene from Apollo 13 when the crew had to get oxygen into the space ship using 2 different filter systems.

Most of the supplies came from Chester County where the grant funds were coordinated for the program which was a “late grant program” according to Edie Shull.

All three instructors were dedicated to get the kids excited about math and science and recommended the program to their students before school ended for the summer. “As a group they really challenged themselves,” said Temons.

The lower grades were busy making projectories, measuring speed and distance and building robotic hands. “We would give them gloves, pliers and tongue depressors to use so they would learn that robots don’t have feelings,” said Woody Fry.

They were divided into 5 teams and had some outside help from the real pros. John Brickhart, a retired civil engineer from Selinsgrove, came to help his granddaughter, Lexi Baranoski. John LaRose, a parent and state police pilot who was trained as an aeronautic engineer to build satellites, also came and helped.

This is the second year the teachers have conducted the program for the kids. “Last year it was weather,” said Shull. “This year it is robotics. We are fortunate to have this.” Chester County was one of 9 in the country to be granted the funds. Chester County Immaculata University coordinated the materials and the lessons.

The week ended by building a solar oven and all enjoyed s’mores and a lunar thermos as a result of what was learned during the week.

Several schools throughout Lycoming County also hosted a Kids Science Fair during the first week of August.