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Skins, slime and static

By MARYAN PELLAND
Published February 8, 2007


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When fifth-graders bring their teacher dead things instead of apples and flowers, you either worry for her or give her credit for broadening her collection of science specimens.

Eastside Elementary decided on the latter. The specimen collection would become part of fifth-grade Family Science Night, a yearly event held under the watchful eye of Cathy Lee, science teacher extraordinaire at Eastside for 25 years.

On Tuesday, it was obvious students adore Lee, who spurred their intellectual curiosity as they set up, and supervised and narrated their science models.

Everything was on display from a volcano with lava flowing merrily down a precipitous slope to a walk-through of the stars and solar system.

Lee's own exhibit consisted of jars - containing snakes, lizards and odd fish. Then there was a rather large beehive, no bees. A snakeskin, no snake. And a squirrel skin. Nope. No squirrel.

Still, little boys couldn't be leveraged away from that table.

Frank Brudy, 10, and David Macedo, 11, built and operated an erosion model consisting of a 2-foot-tall mountain with water pumped through tubing to the summit. The water ran down to erode the soil and sand.

Frank said, "I wanted to show people how the Grand Canyon was formed in case they never saw it."

David, busy trouble-shooting a persnickety pump, managed to say: "This is the actual way it happened."

Jorge Matos, 10, wearing a scientist's lab apron, was busy handing bags of white stuff and green food coloring to young visitors eager to get their hands on the messy packets.

He told his audience: "Smoosh the white and green together and you'll make slime. You can take it home."

Several mothers watched anxiously, considering ramifications of green slime at home.

Taylor Day, 11, stood behind a large static-electric generator. With a gleam in her eye, she invited fellow students to put their hands on the thing while she charged it up.

Their hair stood on end.

An adult assistant obligingly held a mirror up so each victim could witness the destruction of their coif. A spark would jump from generator to bystander. Lots of squeals and giggles.

Taylor knew her experiment top to bottom, explaining candidly: "I've got to let it cool off sometimes or it would really zap somebody. Okay, somebody get up here now."

A mother reached out to steady her youngster, whose hand was on the sphere of the generator. Zap went the mom. Bystanders dissolved in more giggles.

Microscopes, wooden dinosaur bones and human skeleton models were attracting big crowds.

The cool thing about the evening was that there were as many moms and dads, some of whom were students of Lee's, as there were kids.

People stood in block-long lines outside to get in.

Six-year-old Dana Turner, peering into a microscope, was enjoying the tour with her family. The microscope was okay, she said, but slime was her special favorite. The secret recipe, Dana confided, is one drop of green stuff in a whole bunch of white.

Marisa Knight, 10, presented an elaborate display of optical illusions. Impressively, she could explain each one and why it worked.

Said Marisa: "I like doing this - it's fun to show people what we know and what we're doing in class and in science club. Then they know how smart we are."

[Last modified February 7, 2007, 22:32:55]


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