Creating DNA strands using licorice toothpicks and marshmallows is just one of the many activities students participated in at Science Night Feb. 6 at Field Stevenson Elementary School in Forest Park, 925 Beloit Ave.
The scene resembled an amusement park as students energetically walked from table to table to learn different elements of science, such as the physics of flying, spaghetti structures, pulp and paper, carnivorous plants, DNA, static electricity, dry ice and using petroleum jelly to write secret messages.
Students from Betsy Ross Elementary School and Forest Park Middle School were also in attendance at the event and some even helped volunteer.
Leo Daniels Henning, first grader at Betsy Ross, smiled as he created his candy creation of a DNA ladder and then twisted it to make a double helix.
“Right now I feel good. Other schools don’t let kids make candy like that,” said the six-year-old. “My class is researching the human body and one of the groups is DNA.”
His dad, Mark Henning, said it’s hard to get kids to learn about what DNA really is and that the CSI: DNA experiment table was clever.
“Candy never fails. It’s a good way to get kids building and to get them to connect on a basic level to something they will learn more about as they progress in their grades,” Mark said.
Amsa Ramachandran, parent and senior research specialist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, led the “CSI: DNA” table.
Ramachandran, who regularly performs DNA research at her job, said she wanted the young kids to understand how DNA is formed.
“It’s easy to do and is hands on. They can do it at home by themselves,” Ramachandran said.
William Milnamow, principal at Betsy Ross, said this science night serves as an extension of the classroom and gives students a chance to explore and learn new things.
“This is a family event. We’ve got middle school students coming to help out the elementary school students and be nice role models for the kids,” Milnamow said. “All of the [science tables] are very hands on and interactive. One isn’t better than the other.”
Rafael Rosa, parent and D91 school board member, led the physics of flying experiment table and talked to students about how to create a paper plane that will travel the furthest distance when thrown.
“Kids love to make paper planes. I wanted them to think about what would make it fly better — whether to make the wings longer or shorter.” Rosa said.