This April, the Siena-AMC program held its annual Spring into Science event for elementary school and middle school-aged children from across the Albany area. The event is a chance for all class years of the program to get involved by designing a mystery for local elementary school and middle school-aged children to solve using basic science experiments. The goal of Spring into Science is to promote curiosity, excitement, and interest in science within kids from a diverse range of backgrounds. This year, over 60 kids were able to help our special celebrity client—Gru from Despicable Me! Someone had stolen his new plan to steal the moon, and we were tasked with finding the culprit.
Spring into Science took place at three separate facilities across the Albany area; the first of them was Trinity Alliance in Albany, an inner city after-school community center. The kids that we worked with were full of energy and excited to start the science experiments, especially after they heard that the mystery involved minions as suspects. One of the experiments that we performed with the kids was an acid-base reaction using baking soda and vinegar – they loved seeing how the solution quickly bubbled up. One of them even pointed out that the mixture of baking soda and vinegar turned cold afterwards, and another noticed the increasing and decreasing rate of bubble formation as the reaction proceeded. It was exciting for us to hear comments like these because it meant they were learning and being very observant of the science that was taking place.
The second site for our mystery was at Siena College with the Siena College Mentoring Program. The Mentoring Program is an opportunity for children from downtown Albany to have fun on Siena’s campus and have positive experiences with their Siena student mentors. At first, the kids were really skeptical of the science experiments and did not like the idea of what they saw as doing schoolwork during the weekend. As the experiments progressed, the kids became increasingly more excited to find out who was guilty and understand why some of the experiments worked the way they did. The most rewarding part of the day was when one of the little kids came up to us and said that it was the most fun they had at mentoring all semester. It was exciting to see kids who usually are not interested in school (let alone science) become engaged in learning.
The third and final site that we visited was Arbor Hill Elementary School, an elementary school in inner city Albany. There, we ran two consecutive sessions with second and third grade students. While rotating through our investigative stations the kids remained fully engaged and were eager to keep working until the guilty suspect was revealed. The greatest part of being at this site was hearing the kids use basic science concepts that they had learned in their classes to try explaining the experiments they were performing. This bridge between classroom and hands-on science seemed to ignite an untouched excitement within these students. Our successful program cooperation with Arbor Hill Elementary was hopefully the beginning of a newfound relationship that will continue and strengthen in the future.
Spring into Science is a fun and rewarding event that we plan to continue growing in the coming years. It is a great way to get everyone involved, and we all had a fantastic time working with all the kids.
Katie Burke, Alexa Trovato, Greg Altman
Siena College Class of 2018, Albany Medical College Class of 2022