I'm posting my notes from the 7-week Curiosity Club program we held at the Baraboo WI Public Library. Hopefully my abbreviated comments make sense! If not, let me know and I will give more explanations!!
SUMMARY OF CURIOSITY CLUB – SUMMER 2012
Baraboo Public Library, Baraboo WI
Penny Johnson, Teen and Tween Specialist
General notes: our attendance fluctuated between 16 and 24, with an average of 20. This is triple our normal attendance for this age group. We had a couple of third graders and a couple of sixth graders, but the majority were 4-5th graders. Two-thirds were girls. Each attendee wore a nametag. They each got a pocket folder for their papers. Most of them left their folders at the library from week to week. On the last day we provided them with READ bags to take home all of their handouts.
We used four poster boards labeled “What We Know”, “Questions”, “Ideas”, and “New Words.” We used brightly colored post-it notes to add our questions and ideas to these boards. Each week we reviewed what we had added to the boards the week before.
This was a highly successful program. Parents gave me rave reviews. One girl came up to me during an activity and gushed “I just LOVE Curiosity Club!” I look forward to using other Explore programs!!
June 20 – Science or Science Fiction (Ranked #7 by unscientific polling)
Decorated nametags and folders. Played an icebreaker “get to know you” game. Talked about what we already know about Mars and posted responses on the posterboard. Also talked about questions we wanted to answer during our time together. Discussed the difference between science and science fiction and looked at books. Encouraged everyone to go home and listen to the famous radio show “War of the Worlds.” Gave everyone a large piece of paper to draw a picture of Mars. They could either make it a realistic depiction or science fiction. These hung on our program room wall for the duration of the summer.
June 27 – Scratching the Surface (Ranked #2)
Played a matching game with pictures of Earth and pictures of Mars by giving one picture to each child. They had to find the person that matched them. Gave them copies of the Mars Match game cards and encouraged them to make up their own game at home. Borrowed the “Crater Creations” activity from the Inside and Out module on http://www.lpi.usra.edu/education/explore/. Set up three stations: Crater Creations, Carving Channels, and Volcanoes Go with the Flow. This was a very messy activity!! Important to have a capable volunteer at each station!! Had lots of leftover materials for the crater and channel stations, but almost ran out of clay for the volcanoes. (ordered clay online at Discount School Supply). The kids loved using the clear straws to take cross-section samples and at the end of the activity they all filled straws with the layered clay and took them home.
July 11 – Recipe for a Planet (Ranked #3)
Took these ideas from the Mars Inside and Out module on http://www.lpi.usra.edu/education/explore/. Reviewed our discussion from last meeting about channels, volcanoes, and craters. Showed a picture of interior models of Earth and Mars. Performed the differentiation demonstration. In teams of three created models of Mars and Earth using Rice Krispie treats, red icing, donut holes, chocolate chips and sprinkles. I wish I had bought more ingredients so there could have been teams of two. Had lots of leftover icing and sprinkles.
July 18 – Mars Garden (Ranked #5)
Talked about what life needs, and created an acronym summarizing it: NEWP. NEWP stands for Nutrients, Energy, Water, and Protection. Introduced extremophiles and passed out the trading cards. Introduced the field of astrobiology. Read the bios of the astrobiologists found in the journals. (Assigned different groups to read about one person then give a report) We created a list of what traits a good scientist has (Creativity and a willingness to ask “why?” were the top answers.) Created Biomes in a Bottle with jade plant cuttings. Had a LOT of potting soil and rooting hormone powder left over. Bought the wrong kind of potting soil (should have gotten the kind designed for cactus) so hopefully these will work for the kids! A very messy project. Had planned on creating four Winogradsky columns using water and mud from a pond, the river, the lake, and tap water but I never got time to collect the materials.
July 25 – Martian Creatures (Ranked #6)
Had a Skype visit with my daughter, a microbiology grad student at San Francisco State who is studying thermophiles. She is also a Baraboo native, so the kids were impressed that she had attended some of the same schools as they. She showed pictures of her field studies. Kids asked her questions about being a scientist. Showed video clips from “Finding Life Beyond Earth” a NOVA DVD. Reviewed the life needs (NEWP) and spent a few minutes talking about the need for protection from UV rays. Defined UV. Constructed Martian creatures from recyclables and included light-sensitive beads on each. Tested them in the sun then made needed improvements. (Ordered UV beads online at Discount School Supply)
August 1 – Red Rover, Red Rover (Ranked #4)
Talked about Curiosity specs. Estimated its size with kids forming a rectangle with arms outstretched. Added two more kids standing perpendicular to the rectangle to represent the side arm, and put one girl on a chair in the middle with her arms stretched up to represent the mast. Watched videoclip “7 minutes of terror”. Talked about the engineering process. Divided into four engineering teams and built rovers with Legos.
August 8 – Happy Landing Party (Ranked #1)
We again watched “7 minutes of terror” video clip, then watched clips of reactions of those at JPL when Curiosity landed. Looked at photos from Mars. Reviewed everything posted on our four posterboards. Played a numbered chairs trivia game about Mars and Curiosity. Ate a Happy Landing Party cake. (Cake was covered with red sprinkles representing Mars dust, and a picture of Curiosity stood in the middle. The phrase "Dare Might Things" was drawn with icing.) Had an evaluation vote. Let attendees take home any leftover journal pages, their Mars pictures from week one, and the solar system tattoos and posters sent to us by PBS.