A night of science at Black Mountain Elementary School

Margaret Hurt
Special to The Black Mountain News

Black Mountain Elementary School is drawing family members in to take part in learning and share in the children’s schooling experience. More than 150 students and family members recently took part in hands-on “family science night” on Feb. 23. Movement, laughter, color and happy sounds filled the school’s gym. There were no desks and no seated children. It was far from a quiet classroom.

At stations set up around the school’s gym, family members could build and light up circuits using a battery pack and LED bulb. They could create a robot or test stream water to see if it was safe for insects. Parents manned each science station, serving as teachers.

Prior to guests arriving, they got crash course in their table’s topic with the help of a program educator from the Catawba Science Center in Hickory, responsible for the family science night.

“It is definitely an evening where the school community comes together for enriched science fun. We had great participation from parents,” said Jim Griffin, a fourth-grade teacher at Black Mountain Elementary, as well as the school’s liaison for the event.

All the information presented at all stations was geared around the state’s science standards for fourth and fifth grade.

“It is a perfect opportunity for students to ask questions, measure and collect data, use advanced tools, make predictions and more, which exemplifies science as inquiry,” fourth-grade teacher Caroline Clark said, manning a station.

Station topics included matter/energy, weather concepts, force and motion with magnetism, ecosystems, molecular biology, earth systems and genetics.

Fourth-graders there also know a lot about the nine North Carolina lighthouses, which are part of their social studies curriculum.

One of them, Milo Parker, worked closely with his dad to come up with a plan for building a lighthouse. Breaking the plan down into small steps, they gathered items like Legos, LED bulbs, various types of paper and shells for Milo’s creative lighthouse project. “I definitely want to visit the real lighthouse now,” he said.

One hundred and twenty-five fourth-graders completed their lighthouse project from home. Family members got involved too, helping to create a lighthouse model or drawing.

Then family members gathered for the annual Elementary School Lighthouse Gallery on Feb. 26, a highlight of the spring semester for over seven years.

At Jonathan Melton’s house, he and his mother worked on the project for a week. Seeing it finished was the best part, since he was worried it would not get completed in time, Jonathan said.

Standing more than three feet tall, his lighthouse featured elaborate painted “bricks” made from cut strips of cardboard.

Other lighthouses were made from Pringles cans, paper mache, Styrofoam tubes, Popsicle sticks, sand, grass, cardboard and moss.

Guests said they were impressed with the quality of work, as well as the many creative uses of materials forming them.