So, you’ve heard all this talk about school visits, but you’re not sure what that means? Here’s an example of a typical school visit:
The day before:
The cars are packed with all of the boxes containing the interactive exhibits. Since we’re still just starting out, we are using our private vehicles to transport the exhibits. So, loading the boxes requires those skills learned back when you spent all that time playing Tetris. It’s almost magical!
The day of the visit:
Usually we arrive at the school somewhere around the start of the school day. We check in with the office to have our driver’s licenses scanned and get our name tags for the day. Then someone shows us to the room we’ll be using. We unload all the boxes, and start setting up.
Set-up is taking us about forty-five minutes to an hour right now. We’re working on ways to speed this up, but to some extent, it depends on the room – we have to determine how to best utilize the space we’ve been given, how many tables we have, and how many outlets there are and where they are located. Once we decide on a layout, we go to work setting up the exhibits and getting ready for the first group of students.
The students arrive:
The first group of students arrives with their teacher. They sit down and listen while Paul tells them a little about what they are going to do. We hand out rainbow glasses and then Paul turns on an ordinary light. I like to call this “The Wow Moment,” because no matter how old the kids are, they still say “WOW!” When viewed through the rainbow glasses, that ordinary light bulb is surrounded by rainbows. Then, he shows them a neon light. The effect is different. How? You’ll have to try it. I don’t want to spoil it!
After that, the kids are free to wander around the room, trying out all of the exhibits. There are signs with each exhibit suggesting what to try, and explaining what is happening. There are also several ACCHaoS staffers floating around to answer any questions.
The kids are amazing. They try and they retry, they experiment, and they ask questions. I like to watch them as they try different things out – sometimes they go and get someone else, and show them, too. And that is what good scientists do – share their observations and discoveries.
Classes usually stay with us anywhere from thirty to forty-five minutes, depending on the grade level. Between classes we scurry around straightening up and re-setting anything that needs attention. Then the next class arrives, and it all starts again!
At the end of the visit:
After our last class leaves, we reverse the process from the morning and take everything apart and put the exhibits back in their boxes. Then, we load up the flat carts, and take the boxes back to the cars, and load them up again. Then, after a group fist bump, everyone gets back in their cars and we depart. Some brave, hardy souls head back to the Northridge campus to unload the boxes and stow them away until the next time.