Students and parents team up to study wonders of nature at Heron’s ‘Family Science Night’

--- Published on October 04th 2018 ---
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Student tries her hand at science experiment

Science has no age limit, so Heron School invited parents and kids to learn together Wednesday about wonders of nature ranging from light to sound to lasers to magnetism. Welcome to Heron Family Science Night.

The school’s multipurpose room was packed for the 90-minute event, featuring 17 interactive science stations and a grand finale that challenged families to design and build a wind car using index cards, straws, Lifesavers and tape.

By working together, as a family, the event encouraged collaboration and bonding, said teacher Jasmine Reese, who helped organize the session in conjunction with a nonprofit group, Sierra Nevada Journeys.

“The learning is a family event, and there are very few opportunities to see that,” said Reese, who noted that 125 students signed up to attend, not counting parents and siblings who accompanied them.

Family Science Night was consistent with Heron’s focus on STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics — and with NUSD’s emphasis on college and career readiness.

At one science station, families learned about the concept of water tension by seeing how many water droplets they could squeeze onto a penny.

At another station, they studied how light passes through some materials but not others.

At another, they used wire, tape aluminum foil and a battery to create a circuit that lit up a tiny Christmas light.

At another, they learned how drought can affect a tree.

At another, they made paper helicopters and tossed them into the air to observe their fall to the floor.

“It’s great for them,” parent Janelle Arsich said of Heron students. “I think it opens up their minds to science, and different aspects of science, and it’s fun and creative for them.”

Erin Musil, who brought both a son and daughter, said that parent participation added a key element. “I think it makes it more fun and more memorable,” she said.

Parent Cliff Hill said that students received a key lesson simply by seeing their parents attend. “It sends a message to the kids that learning science, and education, is important.”

Marie Stone said parent-child bonding, such as playing games together, is important for all families. She applauded the Heron event because “now you’re actually adding education to it, so they’re learning.”

Principal Amy Whitten was thrilled by the turnout and participation. “One thing I’ve noticed is that it’s not just the kids learning and the parents watching,” she said. “The whole family is coming together to learn together.”

The learning process might not always be smooth, Whitten added, and it’s not a bad thing for kids to see their parents struggle with a scientific challenge or experiment.

“They’re able to help each other figure out that this is really how we learn, and how engineers think,” she said. “We have to persevere, try different things. It’s been fun to see families kind of learning that process together.”