Students, parents enjoy an evening of exploring

HANCOCK – Great Explorations and Gordon G. Barkell Elementary School hosted a Family Fun Night Tuesday evening.

Included were presentations and an ice cream social for local families.

Students at Barkell have also been celebrating March is Reading Month, with some classes tracked the minutes students read and different grades prepared examples of different types of literature. Displays of haiku, tall tales, fables, fiction and other genres prepared by the students adorned the hallways of the school.

GE holds three Family Fun Nights per year in the fall, spring and summer. Each night focuses on different creative and interesting ways to get families engaged with their children’s education, and often include demonstrations where parents can also learn about technology.

At this Family Fun Night, Michigan Tech University students volunteered to teach the children about science.

“It’s often harder to teach kids about science than it is to teach adults,” said Rachel Carpenter, program director of Hancock’s GE program. “They’re so honest, they’ll just tell you if it’s boring.”

The students did not seem bored as they ran around displays on static electricity, projectiles and computer mechanics.

At the static electricity station, kids used static generated by rubbing a balloon over their hair to make aluminum cans move across a table. They were also able to make projectiles from toilet paper tubes to launch ping pong balls around the gym.

In addition, MTU volunteers at the computer mechanics table helped younger kids use a MaKey MaKey kit, which turns ordinary objects into computer keys.

“What it does is turn inanimate objects that are semi-conductive into the keyboard buttons of your computer,” Carpenter said. “So then they get to play with those to essentially turn a banana into a space bar or quarters into arrow buttons. Then they get to play games on weird things.

“The hope is that we get parents and kids interested in basic computer mechanics.”