Kids mark 100th anniversary of Curie’s Nobel Prize

Katie Johnson, 8, performs an experiment with water during Super Science Saturday

Nicole Lamson

Katie Johnson, 8, performs an experiment with water during Super Science Saturday

Marc Maycroft

Kids and parents alike took a day to celebrate math and science at Grand Valley State University’s Super Science Saturday. The festivities featured academic departments including the Regional Math and Science Center, the chemistry department and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Children grades K-12 were welcomed by nearly 200 GVSU student and faculty volunteers in the Padnos and Loutit halls. The free event gave families an opportunity to see how math and science affect their daily lives.

“Our goal is to engage kids, parents and their teachers in fun, content-driven activities that show how chemistry is woven into everyday experiences,” said Karen Meyers, director of GVSU’s Regional Math and Science Center and coordinator of Super Science Saturday. “We hope to promote chemistry and all sciences to kids.”

This year marks the international year of chemistry and the 100th anniversary of Marie Curie winning the Nobel Prize in the field of chemistry, an award given to only three women since Curie.

Meyers said women are especially scarce in the science and math fields, and the Super Science Saturday offers a chance to celebrate women in science.

Super Science Saturday occurs once every three years, and GVSU has celebrated the event since Padnos Hall was built in 1996.

This year, 2,000 visitors were expected to participate in the hands-on activities, and the crowd did not disappoint.

Some exhibits had long lines of curious faces of all ages. Parents shuffled closely behind their children, who hurried to see the next exhibit.

“It’s something new for kids – something that wasn’t around when we were young,” said Andy Rush, a GVSU graduate and father. “It gets them interested in something other than video games. I didn’t ever get to do anything like this, except what we did in school.”

Hoping to get the kids interested in math and science, Tami Bailey brought her grandchildren to the event.

“I know not enough kids are getting into that,” she said as she watched the children learn about watercolors and the effect salt can have on them.

Many parents expressed gratitude to the presenters and volunteers for their help in running the event.

“That’s one good thing about Grand Valley,” said Bailey. “The students volunteer a lot.”

Michelle Bunton, math program coordinator for the Regional Math and Science Center and Super Science Saturday volunteer coordinator, dispersed volunteers to their respective posts, a job that kept her busy throughout the day. However, her own children rushed to the volunteer station to tell her about the science stations they visited.

“This is part of my job, but I would do it anyway because it’s an awesome cause,” she said

She added events like Super Science Saturday did not exist when she was young, but if they had, she would have been a part of them.

While the open-door activities kept everyone moving for most of the day, the event had three feature presentations.

The theatre department offered a short production called “Me and Marie Curie,” a drama based on the life of Madelyn, a 16-year-old who excels in science. She wants NASA to accept her as part of the first “manned” mission to Mars. Along the way, she partners with Marie Curie and discovers the science of her dream.

A segment of the day belonged to “Amazing Chemistry,” which featured a demonstration of chemistry and its principles, geared for grades 3-6, but fun and informative for the family. The presentation drew several excited gasps from the children. As they left the presentation, many of the kids tugged at their parents’ coats and told them favorite moments.

Lynn Hogue captured the attention of kids and parents alike with her presentation, “Chemistry with Charisma!” Her exhibition taught visitors the science of potato guns, whoopee cushions and a couple magic tricks.

“Is it magic,” she asked to her audience, “or is it science?”

Hogue, a well-traveled speaker, author and retired educator expressed the need for children to be interested in science and math.

“Science is one of the coolest things you can learn,” she said. “If you ignore math and science, you cut yourself off from a lot of careers.”

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