February 05, 2014 - Brandon Twp.- Cultural institutions are often absent in rural communities and a long drive may make them out of reach for some.
But through a grant and an outreach program, local kids and their parents will have an opportunity to experience science from the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum this month, right here in the township.
The Oakwood Elementary PTA was recently awarded a $1,000 grant through the National PTA, promoting "Take Your Family To School Week."
The Oakwood PTA will use the funds for a science outreach workshop from the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, from 6-8 p.m., Feb. 19, in the Oakwood cafeteria, 2839 Oakwood Road.
"Kindergarten through third grade students in the community are invited, as well as their parents," said Marissa Ratliff, Oakwood PTA member. "We're hoping to get a good turnout... Being that we are so rural and not a big community meeting place, it's nice to get parents into the school, meeting their kids' friends. Teachers bring their families. A lot of children will never have the opportunity to go to the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum if it doesn't come to them."
Andrea Reynolds, outreach workshops manager for the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum, said 20 different science experiment stations will be set up at Oakwood for the night of fun, with enough supplies to accommodate 500 kids. Parent volunteers will be trained by Reynolds or her fellow outreach employee, Aneesha Badrinarayan.
The program covers a broad range of science topics, including physical science, natural science and will also have math in the mix. Experiments will include "oobleck," a slime the science gurus make and that kids can play with.
"We talk about the state of matter and the difference between solids, liquids and gases and ask them to determine what state the oobleck is in," said Reynolds.
In an activity on sound, children will learn about how sound travels. Another experiment features students making rockets they will launch. The rockets are made of antacid tablets and will inspire a discussion on chemical reactions.
Kids can also build their own parachutes— from hairnets, straws and masking tape.
"One of the biggest things we push at family night is the use of simple materials they can find at home, and then they can try these again at home or in their classroom," said Reynolds. "Out of 20 activities, there will be two to four that they can make and take."
The Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum outreach program was begun in 2000 to give children an opportunity to explore science with their families and get parents involved in what students are learning at school.
"It makes science not so intimidating," said Reynolds. "We use materials that the kids know, so that it's approachable. It's a great way for kids to experience what they are learning and to try things. Our programs in general are geared to Kindergarten through eighth grade. The earlier you can grab their attention and ignite that interest, the more success you have later fostering that learning."
Students who attend the event will also receive a coupon for buy one, get one free admission at the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum.
For more information, call the Oakwood office at 248-627-1880.
Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville