Learning about what types of materials protect against ultraviolet light and figuring out what elements on Mars cause it to not sustain human life sound like topics for college students to tackle in their courses. However, Western Wayne students at the Evergreen Elementary School are getting a head start on understanding scientific questions of this nature through their work with Western Wayne High School chemistry students.
The week of October 22 was National Chemistry Week and in honor of this week Ms. Maria Masankay, high school chemistry teacher, and some of her lab technicians came to EverGreen Elementary to experiment with third and fourth grade students on Thursday, Nov. 1. The third grade students learned about UV light while the fourth grade students experimented the light spectrum and neon lights.
Senior Vaeda Pontosky explained that the experiment with the third graders involved testing out sunglasses to see if they truly protected people from ultraviolet radiation. Part of the test, involved them having the students make key chains with ultraviolet beads and then using a flashlight to see the beads change color under ultraviolet light.
“They were amazed at every little thing,” Vaeda, who is thinking about pursing a physician assistant program, explained. “They loved wearing the sunglasses and both creating the key chains and watching them change colors.”
Fellow senior Bryce Urian also loved working with the elementary students and seeing their reactions to the experiments.
“They were very excited,” Bryce, who plans to major in chemistry next year, said.
Bryce explained that the experiment the students did with the fourth graders tied in with their elementary science curriculum. The fourth graders are learning about Mars in class, so Masankay’s students did an experiment to help them identify the elements on Mars that make it impossible to sustain human life.
The students watched as the high school students used emission tubes with elements in them that they lit up to show different colors for the various elements on Mars. The fourth graders colored in papers to match what they saw in the demonstration and then labeled the elements with the help of their new teachers.
“I think the students really enjoyed having students as their teachers,” Bryce explained.