Establishing the building blocks of scientific thinking begins in Pre-Primary. Hands-on activities are designed for children to experiment with different materials and observe changes in their environment. Many of these activities can be created at home by using basic household items, including this baking soda and vinegar experiment
with Stefania. At home, children gathered vinegar, baking soda, eye protection, containers, and a spoon. The experiment vividly shows a common chemical reaction that occurs when acetic acid (found in vinegar) mixes with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Children were filled with excitement as a fizz erupted from the container.
Primary School students can supplement what they learn in the classroom in real life by interacting with professional scientists. Last week during Primary School Gathering online, the students met Kandrea Wade, MA and PhD student at CU Boulder, who talked to them about her background and what it’s like to be a scientist. Kandrea has a wide variety of experience ranging from the entertainment industry and performing arts to her current work on artificial intelligence (AI), more specifically, algorithmic identity and race in AI. After sharing what scientists do on a daily basis and her studies on the surveillance of marginalized people, Kandrea answered a few questions posed by the students, such as “what is Artificial Intelligence and why do people make it?” and “Are computers smarter than we are?”
In Middle School, 7th and 8th grade students have met with several scientists working in fields such as astronomy and physics to chemical and biomolecular engineering. Last week, Liz Kinnal, a Biomedical Engineer with Selux Diagnostics, presented her work in slowing down bacteria’s ability to develop resistance to drugs. Liz described this problem as a “global crisis” stating 3 million people a year are infected with drug-resistant bacteria, or “superbugs," of which 35,000 will die. As these numbers increase, Liz works on shortening the time patients spend on broad- spectrum antibiotics in the hospital. She, with a team of other scientists, technologists, and engineers, seek to increase diagnostic testing accuracy and capacity. Shortening the window between a patient’s admission and diagnosis with the proper antibiotic treatment hinders bacteria’s ability to mutate.
Students asked many questions after the presentation like “what is your favorite project you worked on?” And, “why do broad-spectrum medicines have side effects?” “How common is it that superbugs can be created?” Even though bacteria are different from viruses, students couldn’t help but wonder, “how long until we find a cure for COVID?” Liz responded by outlining how vaccination trials are conducted to ensure efficacy. “The coolest thing about science is that you can always get an answer. The hardest part about science is that it takes time,” she said.