Saturday, February 21, 2004

Science lessons on wheels

Schools can choose among COSI's learn-by-doing adventures

By Emily Hagedorn
Enquirer contributor

At Yealey Elementary, Tyler Orling (left) and Blake Ingolia test how many hockey pucks they can stack onto a piece of foam. The third-graders were participating in a COSI traveling program. This lesson focused on structure, architecture and buildings.
FLORENCE - With a look of utter excitement and determination, Connor Brossart strained to hold up the foam structure as his fellow kindergartners placed the remaining blocks in their 5-foot-tall arch.

Connor carefully stepped back, looking up after the keystone was placed.

While he can't spell his last name, he can now explain the concept of compression.

Connor and other students at A.M. Yealey Elementary School witnessed scientific concepts in action Friday as part of the Columbus Center of Science and Technology's outreach program, COSI on Wheels.

The hands-on style is "inquiry-based" - it teaches students how to think, ask questions and look beyond the obvious, said Patricia Lee, a spokeswoman at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington.

Beechwood Elementary School in Fort Mitchell has taken part in the 20-year-old COSI on Wheels program many times, said Trudy Weiss Craig, Beechwood's PTSA co-chairwoman of culture arts.

Last year, Beechwood students made electrical circuits, she said.

Schools can choose from eight programs, which include making a take-home container of slime in the chemistry program, completing a task with "space gloves" and keeping pests away from crops in the agricultural program.

When COSI on Wheels comes to schools, it hosts a general assembly, and students go to about eight hands-on exhibits with the help of school volunteers.

COSI on Wheels also visited Union's New Haven Elementary School last December, where students learned Newton's laws of motion and gravity by looking at sports. At Fairfield North Elementary in Fairfield Township, students were able to imagine what it would be like to be an animal caught in a plastic ring from a six-pack of soda.

"It's not pretty fun sitting in class and doing stuff," Connor said. "I like this because you get to do stuff."

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