After-school program at Greenfield elementary school promotes fun, exciting science
Newton School second-grade students Omari Young and Madison Kendrick make binoculars out of a kit during a Mad Science after-school session. The school received a $5,000 grant this fall to host the Northampton-based program. (Recorder/Paul Franz) Purchase photo reprints »
GREENFIELD — A team of about two dozen secret agents were being anything but stealthy as they built “spynoculars” one afternoon in a Newton School classroom.
Following the guidance of “Doctor Atomic,” who walked around in a large, white lab coat, this group of first-graders excitedly assembled paper binoculars that allowed them to read sheets of paper across the room.
It’s part of an after-school “Mad Science” program that the Greenfield elementary school hosted on Friday afternoons this fall. Scientists like Anne Thalheimer, from the Northampton-based Mad Science of Western New England, perform small experiments — all with a spy/secret agent theme — with the school’s first- and second-graders.
It’s paid for by a $5,000 grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council — which connects public schools with short residency programs for artists, scientists and scholars.
Principal Melodie Goodwin wrote the grant as a way to inspire her students to channel their natural curiosity into a love of science. She hopes it will someday snowball into the creation of a school science fair.
“Kids have great questions,” she said. “The idea (is) just to get them really excited about science (and) ... after a really long day, to say learning is still fun and exciting.”
Learning can take place at home, too. Mad Science sessions end with a physical item that students can take with them.
“You can see far away and also ... really close up,” said 6-year-old Mason Thurston, looking through his spynoculars. He already has plans to use the gadget around his house.
“I could pretend I’m on a mission,” he said.
The international company Mad Science offers workshops, after-school programs and birthday parties for children — all focused on promoting an early love of science and technology.
You can reach Chris Shores at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-772-0261, ext. 264