Summer Of Science Heads To Pottstown
This summer’s theme, Simple Machines, will teach students about physics.
If you ask a kid, summer is about vacations, Popsicles and swimming. It’s certainly not about learning or science or engineering.
But thanks to GlaxoSmithKline’s Science in the Summer program, June and July are a chance for children to discover and experiment, and actually love doing it.
The free hands-on program for students entering second through sixth grades in the fall is sponsored by GSK, in cooperation with The Franklin Institute, and is held at local libraries.
This summer’s theme, Simple Machines, will teach students about physics, using six kinds of simple machines: lever, inclined plane, screw, wheel, pulley and gear. Students will experiment with building simple machines that help make things easier, like lifting huge boulders, building bridges, pumping water, etc., all while learning about motion.
“They love it because it’s all hands on, lots and lots of experiments and activities, and the teachers are all real science teachers,” said Royersford Library children’s librarian Nancy Niggel. “It also helps that each student gets his or her very own science ‘stuff’ to keep after the class, things like safety goggles, magnifying glasses, pencils, booklets, bags and a certificate.”
During each session, students will learn scientific methods of hypothesis and experimentation through inquiry-based instruction.
“Children are led through scientific concepts by the teacher, and participate in experiments that reinforce those concepts,” said Mary Linda Andrews, GSK’s director of community partnerships.
Since Science in the Summer began 26 years ago, GSK, dedicated instructors and local libraries have given more than 100,000 students in the Greater Philadelphia region something productive to do over their summer vacations.
“Instructors are certified teachers, most of whom are local elementary and middle-school teachers,” Andrews said. “We have a group of teachers who are dedicated to the Montgomery County libraries. They come back year after year, so many are familiar faces.”
It’s the combination of the beloved instructors, engaging content and hands-on experimentation that makes Science in the Summer such a hot commodity with kids and parents.
“For parents, I believe Science in the Summer is popular because it is a high-quality program offered at no charge,” Meyer said. “For the kids, I think the hands-on experiments really make it fun. Also, you can tell the teachers that run the classes enjoy sharing their knowledge of science with the children.”
The librarians love it too, especially Niggel, who says she’s learned a lot from Science in the Summer over the years herself. The students’ favorite experiments usually turn out to be Niggel’s, as well, like working with dry ice, looking at specimens through microscopes and growing cultures in Petri dishes.
“This will be my ninth summer of Science in the Summer, and I’m sure we will fill our classes again. We always do,” Niggel said. “In fact, we usually have enough students interested that we could almost fill another two classes.”
If you think your child might be interested in Science in the Summer at your local library, register now. Classes fill up quickly.
Parents must register in-person at the library, and selection process varies by location. Students will be selected to participate either through a lottery or on a first-come, first-served basis.
Registration began on May 1 at Lansdale Library, and according to director Tom Meyer, by 5 p.m., one session was already more than halfway full.
“Anticipation and excitement for the program always starts to build in April, and the first day of registration is quite busy,” Meyer said. “And when the classes start during the summer, the kids can’t wait to get in the room and start with the experiments.”
Since Science in the Summer is so popular, and each program is just a few days, only students who can attend the full program should register.
“We ask that participants attend both days if they are chosen for the class,” Niggel said.
For details: Pottstown Regional Public Library