The Roberson Museum & Science Center gave children of Binghamton an Ivy League education for a day.
Binghamton University undergraduates and graduates teamed up with Binghamton High School students and Cornell University to put on a mini science fair for local elementary school students.
Themed tables designed to teach children about different scientific and nutritional concepts were set up throughout the museum.
Mia Bruner, a senior at Binghamton High School, ran a station where children got to hold chicks while learning about one of the most widely consumed animals in the world: the chicken.
“We are trying to get kids to experience things they usually wouldn’t,” Bruner said. “I hope the kids have fun at this but maybe next time they are eating a chicken nugget they will actually think about what they are eating.”
There were multiple other stations focused on health, a pertinent topic considering that Binghamton — according to a recent Gallup poll — ranks among the most obese cities in the country.
One station had bagels with varying amounts of butter slathered on them to represent the calorie counts of different fast food items. Another used sugar packets to demonstrate how much sugar is in the average can of soda.
“Oh man,” said 8-year-old Max after learning that there are 39 grams of sugar in a 12 oz. can of Coca-Cola. “That’s more than I thought.”
Kelly Adams, a volunteer, ran a station that had kids design their own parks.
“This year we are doing maps and apps so we are showing kids how GPS and GIS (graphic information system) work,” Adams explained. “They are given eight acres of land to build their own park, and there are different layers they can build into that. They identify what they want in their park and what layer that is associated with.”
According to Adams, this was not a simple “design your dream park” activity.
“There are things the kids need to consider that they had not thought about like sewage systems for a bathroom or electric lines before they lay the black top,” Adams said. “Sometimes there are things they have to scrap because they wouldn’t fit or would ruin the land. They are really learning special engineering.”
The event was organized by the BU Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) and the Cornell Cooperative Extension program.
Pat Madej, the youth engagement coordinator for the CCE and 2012 BU alumnus, said that the event was a great way for college students to get involved with local high school and elementary school students.
According to Madej, the Cornell Coopertive Extenstion program partners with the CCE to run a program called Citizen U, which is an after-school program for at-risk youth who attend Binghamton High School.
Children at the event also got a little taste of biology.
“The kids are extracting DNA from a strawberry so they learn what DNA is and that it’s in all living things, and they get to actually see it condense in a tube,” said Sarah Marcus, who was running the strawberry station. “We hope that they come away with the understanding that DNA is in all living things and not just human blood.”
Victoria, 8, said she learned not only about DNA at the event, but also about energy conservation.
“I liked the biking the best,” she said, referencing a station where kids got to pedal on a stationary bike to generate electricity which would light lightbulbs with different brightnesses. “I learned that you use a lot of energy when you’re on the bike and energy costs a lot of money.”
Troy, a third grader, said that he had a lot of fun at the event.
“I wish science was like this at school,” he said.