Summer of Science

Published 6:08 pm Thursday, June 23, 2011

Many people use the summer to take time off from their everydayjobs so they can vacation, travel or do nothing.

     However, some students from local schools and West LincolnAttendance Center teacher Lindsey Sims have decided to spend a weekof their summer vacation doing what they normally do throughout theschool year: go to class.

     This week is “Discovery Week – Science Camp” forparticipating kindergarten through sixth-graders in the area, heldevery day at the Bicentennial Building in Brookhaven.

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     Sims, originally from Mobile, Ala., and a University ofSouth Alabama graduate, has been a teacher at West Lincoln for thepast four years and has taught science and social studies tosixth-graders. She explained that while this week’s activity islike going to class during the school year, it is also different invarious ways.

     “Here at the camp, the kids can have more time withhands-on activities that they may not have had a chance to do intheir regular science classes,” Sims said. “Most teachers don’thave time for those activities with all the other things they haveto cover.”

     Indeed, the campers have been busy so far this week. It wasevident in the review portion of the day Wednesday afternoon thatthe students have learned a lot so far.

     On Monday, they went over magnets and magnetism conceptssuch as attraction and repulsion. Sims had the students workmagnets through mazes using those forces and also held magnetraces.

     And Tuesday participants went over the human body and themajor systems such as the nervous and digestive. They tracedcutouts of their bodies and replicated to-scale organs like theheart and the small intestine.

     Weather was Wednesday’s subject area. Sims covered topicslike volcanoes and earthquakes, tornadoes and hurricanes, and eventhe sun’s UV rays. The students made and erupted volcanoes usingbaking soda and vinegar, and they simulated tornadoes with waterand plastic bottles.

     Sims had camp participants brainstorm what kinds ofsurvival items would be necessary if a hurricane was to come.

     “Ice cream!,” “Underwear!,” “Toilet!,” some of the studentsjoked before coming up with more practical answers like first-aidkits, battery-powered radios and water.

     This is the first year for the science camp, which wasorganized by Sims.

     “I just wanted the kids to have something different to doin the summer,” she said. “I love kids, and I love science, and Iknow I would have loved to have this going on when I was growingup. I just want something like this to be offered to them.”

     On tap for the rest of the week is “Total ChemistryThursday” when the campers will learn basic lab safety.

     “We’ll play with things like disappearing ink, and the kidswill create their own slime,” Sims said.

     On Friday, aka Food Chain Friday, they will learn about thefood chain in their everyday lives, create a food web and dissectan owl pellet.

     Tammy Caruthers, whose daughter Ann Carraway, 8, isenrolled in the camp, said she was looking for a way to keep herdaughter entertained during the summer while keeping education inmind as well.

     “She has had a good time,” Caruthers said. “She likesscience and always comes home telling us what she learned. I thinksomething like this helps her keep learning in the summertime andhelps expand her world.”