19 November 2013 ~ 0 Comments

From Grad. school to Grade school…..

Please read our newest Education Committee member’s and Volunteer Program Educator’s reflections on joining RIMOSA!

Here is a question I was very curious to find an answer to: How does a scientist who is used to talking to audiences at a graduate level fare in front of a class full of 10 year olds? I decided to test it out. So, setting aside my nervousness and uncertainties, I decided to volunteer for RIMOSA’s ‘Art & Science collide at Hamilton’ event at Hamilton elementary school in North Kingstown, RI. The programs were designed so that the students get a chance to learn a scientific concept along with a healthy dose of art or vice versa.

The first program I assisted with was titled ‘Nature Inspired Art’ where kids were encouraged to go out and create their own sculptures with items found in nature. One of the teachers came back to us and told that our program had inspired the kids to go out and play! In an era dominated by mobile apps, I consider this a complement of the highest order. Another program was titled ‘Mobiles’ where students got to make their own version of Calder mobiles using nothing but wooden grill skewers and a bunch of transparency sheets. I watched the kids as they used sharpies and scissors to color and shape different components of their mobiles. The physics of balanced forces and torques were effortlessly and elegantly integrated into the activity as the kids tried to balance the transparency sheets on the skewer. By the end of the session, the mathematical equations describing equilibrium almost became intuitive. I realized that this activity was indeed bridging the gap between ‘fun art’, ‘boring science’ and ‘scary math’.

Being in formal education and training for such a long time, I had forgotten the reasons I fell in love with science in the first place. It was the natural curiosity, the realization that certain phenomena do have explanations, the ability to predict some outcomes and the sheer joy of seeing those predictions come true. I got a chance to relive my school days through these children. I saw the twinkle in their eyes when the lead instructors slowly but surely conveyed the concepts through interactive activities. When they said “oooo…” as they watched a rainbow being created by a glass prism splitting white light, my heart also went “oooo…”. And I am looking forward to the next session, because I love these “oooo…” s.

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