Young Einsteins have fun with science in Houston County

alopez@macon.comMay 2, 2014 

WARNER ROBINS -- Dressed as Albert Einstein, 9-year-old Diego Galvan smiled when a coil that was wrapped around an electromagnet powered a red light bulb.

When asked what he knew about Einstein, the Parkwood Elementary third-grader responded by explaining how time is affected by relative velocity. He didn’t use precise words, but he accurately matched a scientific principle to a physicist associated with it.

“I’m proud of him,” said Diego’s father, Eric.

Diego was one of many Houston County students experiencing hands-on science, technology, engineering and math learning Friday at the district’s annual STEM family fun night.

District teachers and administrators set up almost 30 activities inside Houston County High School’s cafeteria for parents and students to explore. At one table children learned the phases of the moon using Oreo cookies. At another they used tuning forks to create waves in water. There also were activities that involved children dipping their hands in gooey materials or interacting with robots.

Diego said his favorite activity involved assembling structures using toothpicks and gumdrops.

The tricky part is engineering them so they stand upright, he said.

At another popular table, children created chemical reactions by mixing vinegar with baking soda. Wayne Davidson, of Warner Robins, said his 6-year-old son enjoyed that activity the most. He said he is grateful Houston County places a strong emphasis on math, science, engineering and technology.

“It gives kids a chance to really be able to excel at a younger age, and it will help them in the future, whether it’s college or technical school or something else,” Davidson said.

The idea for Friday’s event was to expose young students to basic physics and chemistry concepts, said Bonaire Middle School teacher Angie Herbel, who set up several of the activities.

Herbel said parents interested in helping their youngsters get involved in science, technology, engineering and math should dive right in.

Get online and find activities to do at home, she said.

“There are experiments out there your kids can do in the kitchen,” she said, “with perfectly safe materials.”

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