You couldn’t tell if students or teachers were more surprised when Mr. Wizard’s assistant turned a hydrogen-filled balloon into a fireball last Thursday at Adams Elementary School.
“I saw Mrs. Chadwick jump when she saw it,” said Geena Padillaa, 7, referring to Principal Valerie Chadwick’s reaction at the all-school assembly when the balloon burst and blazed. Chris Barcroft is the next best thing to television’s real Mr. Wizard, Don Herbert.
Mr. Wizard’s traveling show, sponsored by Mr. Wizard Studios, looks more like a magic show than a science presentation, but Barcroft reminded the audience that there’s no magic involved in his demonstrations - just scientific principles.
For starters, Barcroft poked a knitting needle through an inflated balloon without making it pop.
The trick? Gently rock the needle back and forth through the bottom of the balloon and thread it through the balloon so it pierces the top of the balloon near the knot.
The scientific principle: A heartier layer of molecules seals the needle puncture at top and bottom. Poke the balloon in the side where the plastic is thinner and the molecules fewer - and it pops.
Barcroft helped a sixth-grader separate the iron from a box of Total cereal. Together they put the wheat flakes in a blender, filled it with water, mixed well, then inserted a magnet into the soup. Presto, the magnet emerged with little black flecks of iron clinging to the tip.
The scientific principle: Blending the cereal with water separates the iron from the wheat. The iron, which is heavier than wheat, settles to the bottom of the container.
“That’s how cereal makers get the iron in cereal. They add iron dust to it,” Barcroft explained.
“I’m not eating cereal anymore,” said one little audience member.
“Iron is good for you,” Barcroft good-naturedly countered. “It reacts in your stomach and helps your blood oxygenate better.”
This is the third year that Adams Elementary has presented the hourlong show. Some students have seen the Mr. Wizard show before, and they said his experiments change each year.
“I saw him last year,” said Sara Bick, 11. “He’s cool.”
Marquita Meyer, fourth-grade teacher and the school’s science club adviser, said members of the Associated Student Body voted to bring the presentation back for a third year. Teachers were clearly pleased with the ASB’s choice.
“I think I had more fun than the kids,” said first-grade teacher Judy Reeves.
After the show finished, Geena Padillaa skipped out the door to join her friends at recess.
Barcroft’s presence seemed to have sparked student interest in scientific experimentation.
On the playground, Geena and four other girls busily stuffed juniper leaves into a mason jar full of water, which had turned the color of coffee.
“Are you doing an experiment?” a visitor asked.
“Yes” Geena replied, “We’re making something smelly.”
Grant students paint giant mural
Wilma Arnold’s class at Grant Elementary took a trip around the world. Their mode of transportation? Books.
As part of the school’s January reading program, “Open Your World - the Year of the Reader,” students in Arnold’s fifth-grade class each painted a part of a giant mural.
The school’s monthlong program stresses reading as a means to explore the world’s countries and cultures.
Each of Arnold’s 25 students chose an image to represent a country of choice. Students read at least one book on the country, wrote a report, then decorated the 16-foot mural.
“I chose Chad,” said Dominque Ashley, 11.
“I learned it had lots of animals and lots of different tribes,” she said.
Dominque painted a picture of a traditional African dancer on the mural to represent the central African country.
“I’d like to go there someday. They have a lot of cheetahs, leopards, panthers and zebras,” she said. Starr Gonzales, 11, chose Spain.
“They have lots of music and dancers,” she said.
Starr painted a white Spanish castle on the mural to represent that country’s rich history.
Danielle Pirello, 10, whose grandmother lived in Italy, said she wants to learn “a little” Italian before she visits there. Her contribution to the mural was a painting of Rome’s Colosseum. “They have cool accents,” Pirello said.
Other students chose Russia, Germany, Norway and the United States as countries they wanted to learn more about.
“Grant School is fortunate to be represented by many cultures and nationalities,” Arnold said, “so the theme ‘Open Your World’ is especially appropriate to us. I know all of us here appreciate diversity.”
In conjunction with Grant’s January reading program, members of the Spokane Kiwanis Club last Thursday presented students with more than 130 books, said Sally Rainey, a reading specialist at Grant.
Hamblen principal wins award
Donna Burt, principal of Hamblen Elementary School, was named the 1996 Distinguished Elementary Principal of the Year for the Spokane region.
Burt will be honored by school district officials and the corporate sponsor of the award, The Guardian Life Insurance Co., at a luncheon on Feb. 26. Burt’s name will be placed in nomination for the 1996 Outstanding Elementary Principal in Washington state, said Joanne Armstrong, coordinator for School District 81’s community activities.
There are 18 regions in Washington State.
Burt was selected for the award by the Spokane Elementary Principals Association.
Armstrong said Burt was chosen for her dedication to parent involvement, special education and innovative curriculum. Armstrong said Burt is “clearly student-focused. Everything she does, she thinks about how it will benefit kids.”
“Our school has been really strong in the issue of the arts and different kinds of intelligences,” Burt said. “We have a real strong hands-on math and science program.”
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