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Science eruption in Woodbury

Liberty Ridge second grader Derrand Wilcox was among the students wowed during a science experiment that caused steam to pipe out of a water bottle. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker1 / 3
Liberty Ridge second graders roar with applause Thursday, May 23, during a Science Outreach event where East Ridge High School students demonstrated an experiment where Mentos candies were dropped in a 2-liter soda bottle, causing a foam fountain. Bulletin photo by Mike Longaecker2 / 3
East Ridge High School seniors Connor Finholt and Carl Duebner demonstrate for Liberty Ridge students an experiment where oxgyen ignites the compound lycopodium into a momentary flame.3 / 3

Parents and teachers might hear it time and time again from their elementary students - science is boring.

However, East Ridge High School students are trying to break down those stereotypes through the school's Science Outreach program, which brings science demonstrations and hands-on activities to elementary students throughout District 833.

"We can share our knowledge and have fun at the same time," East Ridge senior Carl Duebner said. "Science is so vital to so many things.

"If you get them interested early, hopefully they'll continue on with it."

Science Outreach visited four second grade classrooms at Liberty Ridge on Thursday where students conducted a number of scientific experiments including: sucking an egg into a bottle, making glow sticks, mixing Mentos and soda, creating a "genie in a bottle" and demonstrating rockets.

"You pick out the experiments that catch their eye," East Ridge science teacher Amanda Gavin said. "We take a science concept and try and make it real."

Gavin started Science Outreach about five years ago, when she was teaching at Woodbury High School.

Gavin had participated in a similar program when she was a student at the University of Minnesota, so she thought it would be a good opportunity for her students.

"I thought this would be a really great way for our kids to mentor littler kids," she said.

Science Outreach meets after school only a couple times throughout the year to plan and practice their demonstrations.

Students visit an elementary school in the winter and then again in the spring.

In addition to visiting Liberty Ridge last week, Science Outreach also visited Grey Cloud Elementary in the winter.

Gavin said Science Outreach has helped the high school students look back at what they've learned throughout their academic careers.

"It gives them a chance to reflect on what they've learned and how far they've come and how they can explain these things," she said. "The high schoolers find confidence in something that they can share and be knowledgeable about.

"It's really fun for me to see them take control of their learning."

Science Outreach also has great benefits for the second graders, Gavin said, since they learn a bit about science and see that science can be fun.

East Ridge senior Francesca Ippoliti said she loves seeing the second graders' excitement.

"I like to see the reactions when they see everything," she said.

East Ridge senior Bruno Hespanhol, who helps out as a tutor, said teaching elementary students about science was the perfect fit for him since he loves to teach children.

"They are the next generation of students to go into science," he said.

Hespanhol said one of his favorite aspects of Science Outreach and teaching second graders about science is the pure amazement the students exhibit.

"I love making them think about what they understand about the subject," he said. "Their responses are so creative because in their minds, it's just pure magic.

"But, it's our job to try and teach them that it's not magic, it's real life."

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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