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Schools hosts annual science overnight event

Date: 11/28/2012

By Carley Dangona

SOUTHWICK — Powder Mill Middle School will host its 14th annual science overnight for fifth and six graders from 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 30 to 11:30 a.m. on Dec. 1, to teach students about science through real-life experiments and hands-on presentations.

"Every minute has something in it," Susan Pac, coordinator for the event and enrichment specialist for the Gifted and Talented Program, said. She attributed the long-lasting success of the program to a well-organized collaboration of teachers, student volunteers and parents.

She cited some favorite experiments of the students. "The Egg Drop is popular because they get to smash something although the goal is not to drop the egg, and many of the students really like the experiments with Alka-Seltzer and volcanoes," Pac stated.

"They are with their friends and it's fun," Pac said. "It's a way to link enjoyment with learning — it shows them that they can go out and explore their world."

Pac noted that each segment is limited to a 45-minute lesson that enables the students to work hands-on, in order to keep them attentive and interested. This year's overnight will consist of seven mini-sessions and there will be nine groups of students.

She added, "Almost all of the people presenting the mini-lessons are Westfield State University students, who will receive college credit for their involvement."

The planning for the event begins in the first week of October each year and the timeline is strictly adhered to in order to ensure the program doesn't run into any last-minute obstacles. Every year, many eighth grade and high school students who attended the program when they were younger, return to assist with the overnight, according to Pac.

"A small group of eighth-graders is helping organize the event as a class component [in a leadership program]. They make the follow-up calls [to confirm attendance] and send [press release] faxes to inform the community about the event," Pac explained. In addition, some of the students were interested in assisting with the overnight program itself.

This years' event will start with a presentation of the Casey Carle Bubblemania act and will be followed by a pizza party and sundae bar.

Some of the courses being offered include: Starlab Planetarium, Rocket Explosion, Magnetic Levitation, Lava Lamps and Crayon Rocks.

The event will conclude with Mr. Science, Jonah Cohen of The Children's Museum in West Hartford, Conn.