Sticky fingers, roller coaster draw science buffs to school's science night
HOHENFELS, Germany — Sometimes the best science instruction is found outside the classroom.
At the ninth annual Math, Science, Technology Night at Hohenfels Middle/High School on Thursday, nearly two dozen booths offered hands-on science exhibits, the kind that get sticky, or colorful, or even frightening.
Organizers say the event has become one of the school’s most popular, drawing children of all ages and teaching a thing or two to their parents, as well.
“It’s a big deal,” said Jeanette Fry, a fifth-grade teacher. “It’s something where families can come out and enjoy it. I think families look forward to it.”
Fry’s booth offered a lesson on liquids that don’t behave as expected. A tin pan held cornstarch and water, a mixture that, if solid when picked up, quickly dissolves in the hands. Cornstarch and water don’t mix like other substances, Fry said.
“It’s a non-Newtonian liquid,” she said. “It doesn’t play by the rules.”
Down the hall, community health nurse Linda Riding caught some attention with her anti-smoking booth. A plastic jar with a dark, clingy liquid represented the amount of tar in a pack of cigarettes, she said.
“What we’re trying to do is encourage them to never start,” Riding said.
Some of the exhibits were sponsored by the military or a military-related industry.
Popular booths on Thursday included the star lab, an inflatable dome in which star patterns from across the world were projected onto the ceiling.
Raytheon, a technology company specializing in defense, brought several guns outfitted with the same laser targeting system used in the nearby military training areas.
Other military exhibits included 3-D mapping, offered by Integrated Training Area Management, and a field ambulance brought by the garrison aid station.
The evening’s centerpiece was the roller coaster demonstration, a project of Joyce Dusenberg’s 11th- and 12th-grade physics classes and an annual draw at the event. Using plastic engineering pieces, Dusenberg’s students were tasked with building a model roller coaster.
Roughly 8 feet tall and just as long, the project posed several challenges, from keeping the car on the tracks to getting it hooked into a motorized conveyor belt.
“We’ve done about 10 different designs for this hook,” senior Robbie Campbell, 17, said.
This year’s project set a height record for the 10 years of the project, Dusenberg said. It was still short of the record for most runs on the coaster, however.
“That’s 34 times, and they’re not going to bust it,” she said.
Maybe next year.