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Mad scientists infiltrate Clear Creek Elementary

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Jacob Baldridge stared at his beaker in wide-eyed amazement as a white, fizzy liquid rose and poured over the sides of the container. Jacob, a first-grader at Clear Creek Elementary School, squealed with excitement, his exuberance matched only by the 10 or so other first-graders who also had gotten a taste of hands-on science.

A simple mixture of baking soda and vinegar became a science lesson courtesy of Mad Science, a national, franchised company that teaches children that science is not only fun, it’s really cool, too. About 30 Clear Creek Elementary students are participating in the program, which is conducted on Thursdays from 2:10-3:10 p.m. after school lets out for the next month. Thursdays are early release days in the Central Kitsap School District.

“It’s kind of exciting,” said Mary Ann Myles, the woman responsible for the volcanic eruption. “I didn’t get to do anything like this in my elementary school.”

Mad Science performed two free, 30-minute assemblies — one for the students and one for the parents — before opening enrollment for the program, said Tim McNett, vice principal of Clear Creek Elementary.

“They gave scholarships for children who were not able to participate,” McNett said. The scholarship recipients were chosen at random.

The teachers who give up their classrooms for the lessons are rewarded at the end of the program with an hour-long science lesson, McNett said.

Mad Science’s lessons are all hands-on and based on the Full Option Science System, which is the same curriculum used in CKSD, said Sherrill Stead, the director of Mad Science’s franchise in Lacey. It is that way by design: Mad Science isn’t used to introduce new science concepts, but to reinforce what the children learn in school.

“The concepts we present in the classroom all show up in FOSS and on the WASL (Washington Assessment of Student Learning),” Stead said. Sometimes, the students learn science facts before they are covered in the classroom, but all the Mad Science lessons will show up in the classroom.

“We are not introducing brand-new concepts in our lessons, but the students will remember some of them. They are designed to excite children about science.”

The instructors are pooled from retired teachers, college students working toward a teaching certificate and others who love to be in the classroom, Stead said.

Mad Science was founded in 1985. It is currently franchised in 156 North American cities and 22 countries worldwide. The company does presentations in classrooms and is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the National Science Teachers Association and the Children’s Science Enrichment Foundation.

For more information on Mad Science, go to www.madscience.org/southsound.

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