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This Place Just Oozes Science Region’s Students Get Hands-In Learning

Hundreds of elementary school children and their teachers are getting slimed this week in the name of science.

Maegan James was one of them.

On Monday, the fifth-grader from Freeman Elementary School in south Spokane County reached into a jar and grabbed an oozing handful of slime.

It came from one of several experiments on the characteristics of chemicals known as polymers at a “Science Champions” program in Cheney this week.

“I get to learn and it’s also fun,” James said.

She and four other students in her class were accompanied by their teacher, Karen Byrne, to the traveling science program offered through the Pacific Science Center and held at Eastern Washington University.

This is the 11th year the science center has offered the program to students in Eastern Washington.

The students and teachers then go back to their schools and teach other students what they’ve learned.

Steve Barnes, a teacher at Bemiss Elementary School, said the program teaches another important lesson.

“It kind of puts the teacher on the same level as the student. It’s kind of neat for them to see the teacher as a learner,” he said.

Five students are selected from classrooms of the participating schools. At Freeman, the children wrote three-paragraph essays, and the best writers were chosen, Byrne said.

“We are teaching the students to be teachers,” said Beth Harmon, one of the science center instructors.

Among the experiments, the children and their teachers learn how to build a flashlight with batteries, wire and tiny light bulbs.

They also get to mix latex and vinegar to create a firm polymer that bounces.

The slime is made from borax and guar gum. The gum is an extract from the root of the pea plant and often is used as a thickener in food products.

Nearly 500 students and teachers from throughout Eastern Washington are to attend the program through Thursday.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo

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