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Getting hands on with science

Thursday, January 31st, 2013 | Posted by


Savannah A., Emma W., and Julia M. experiment with goop.

Hundreds of kids and adults converged upon the multi-purpose room at Evergreen Elementary School on Wednesday night to play mad scientist and learn fundamental concepts of science. Science Night is one of the many scheduled family fun nights put on throughout the year at the school to gives parents and their kids a chance to have fun.

This particular program is done a little bit differently however, to give all parents a chance to play.

“We wanted to have an event where the parents were free to enjoy all of the activities as well. Instead of using parent volunteers we have students from Sonoma State handling the stations,” said Debbie Ziese, a teacher at the school and one of the primary organizers of the event.

Most of the credit for the event goes to Ken Zschach who has been donating his time and energy to this project for the past five years. It started when his daughter Rachael was at the school.

The idea is to set up multiple stations, each with its own experiment. Volunteers are then brought in to learn the experiments so they can then teach the kids. For the most part the program utilizes the same experiments each year. The 15 stations cover a wide range of concepts involving heat, electricity, chemical reactions, and so much more.

The variety of stations ensured that kids stayed engaged and had plenty of fun.

“This is awesome,” shouted one 1st grader as he stomped on an empty water bottle to propel a soft rocket towards the high ceiling.

Sorority sisters work with foaming bubbles and 1st graders.

Two sororities, Alpha Xi Delta and Alpha Delta Pi of Sonoma State University, had about 15 girls each on hand to help out with the projects. Both sororities have been involved with Science Night for the past few years.

Along with the hands on experiments, such as making a tornado or building a tower of strength, the kids had a chance to learn about the stars. The Sonoma County Astronomical Society set up multiple telescopes outside create a mock observatory. Kids could gaze up into the night sky while astronomers point out various stars.

Zschach also brings in a makeshift planetarium called Star Labs, which is on loan courtesy of Sonoma State University. Kids take off their shoes and crawl inside an inflated dome for a fun lecture from Zschach about the stars and their locations in the sky.

Science Night has been a part of Evergreen Elementary for the past eight years or so, according to Denise Ybarra, who teaches 1st grade at the school.

“It’s just such a great way for the kids to get their hands into and on everything to see how it works.” she said.

Experimenting with a hot air balloon.

Each child gets a small passport book and then can go to whichever station they would like. After completing the experiment one of the volunteers marks the passport with a letter which spells out a secret message on the passport. While not a student anymore, Zschach’s daughter Rachael was also on hand to help out by manning the passport booth.

“It’s fun to help out. Plus this is a great way to earn credits towards college. It is really hard to beat that combination,” she said.

“It’s just a great community event and opportunity for the kids and parents to have fun,” said Debbie Ziese.


Did you attend Evergreen’s Science Night? Tell us about it in the comments!

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Nick Walden is our Rohnert Park + Cotati correspondent.
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