Sheffield Lake/Sheffield Village
By Michele Murphy
Kindergarten and first-graders made whooshing sounds to simulate wind. They patted their little knees to simulate the sound of rain. A machine, operated by the instructor and looking a lot like a bug zapper, sparked a flash of lightning and a drum rumbled like thunder.
Despite the stormy simulation, the day at Knollwood School in the Sheffield-Sheffield Lake School District was actually sunny inside and out as little learners were introduced to the science behind weather.
“Current Conditions” was presented by Columbus-based COSI and paid for by the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) at Knollwood.
Little hands throughout the audience shot into the air each time there was a call for volunteers. Delighted squeals and “ooh’s” were frequently heard as COSI presenter Lexi Carter, herself a licensed teacher, helped familiarize “meteorologists-in-training” with technology used by forecasters while helping kids explore how weather affects life.
Along the perimeter of the gym, volunteers were stationed at nine activity stations. Once the schoolwide assembly concluded, classrooms returned at scheduled times throughout the day to allow children to try their hand at different weather-related activities.
Volunteers were Knollwood parents or students from Brookside High School. They had manuals and support from Carter to help them set up and conduct activities. One of those parent volunteers was Michelle Moreno, vice-president of Knollwood’s PTO. She said parents had been “very generous” participating in fundraisers that paid the cost of the visit. It was hard to tell who was having more fun — Moreno or the kids — as she demonstrated gauges used to measure rainfall, wind speed or temperatures.
Parent volunteer Andrew Tessaro, whose nametag introduced him as “Lani’s dad,” had a large group around him as he demonstrated wind tubes. He then allowed kids to take turns trying their hand at it.
Tessaro says he and his daughter enjoy doing various science projects at home. He recalls his favorite class in school was physics because the teacher allowed hands-on engagement, which was a feature of the day’s activities.
Parent Mike Rosso was at another station, where children were equally engaged. His son and two nieces attend Knollwood so making a decision to volunteer was easy for him. Besides, he says, “It’s a really cool event.”
Teachers Linda Wozniak and Michelle Lewis said, in addition to introducing students to a new academic topic, they felt the program was a great community event, given the participation among parents and high school students.
Kelly Zana, a kindergarten teacher, proposed bringing COSI to Knollwood. She said she had served as a parent volunteer when her own children participated in a similar COSI-led program a few years ago at another school district.
The teachers and Carter acknowledged that the drive to Columbus and admission fee could be barriers for some kids to participate. By bringing COSI to the school, every child was able to participate. The teachers also noted the program met state academic standards in science.
Carter told her audience they had two goals to meet: learn something and have fun. If engagement and laughter were the measures used to judge goal attainment, mission accomplished.
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