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Students Experiment as
Mad Scientists for a Day

Whats better than a hands-on science experiment? A school full of them! One Maryland elementary school holds a Mad Scientist Day so students and their parents can try all kinds of science activities. Included: Description of Mad Scientist Day projects.

To give students, staff, and parents a break from the time and stress involved in creating typical science fair projects, teachers at Hollywood Elementary School in College Park, Maryland, decided four years ago to turn everyone into scientists for a day so they could try their hands at different experiments.

So instead of one student demonstrating a bubbling volcano or lighting a bulb with a homemade battery, students and parents were able to participate in activities from across the spectrum of science as part of Mad Scientist Day and Night.

We follow the state and county curriculum guidelines to provide lots of hands-on activities for the students, said Barbara Caskey, Hollywoods principal.


The program is designed to increase students interest in science through activities that supplement classroom lessons. Teachers in the school provide science instruction at all grade levels. The teachers decide on the activities and use curriculum materials and resources that the school system has provided, Caskey said. There are many choices.

During the day, students took part in classroom experiments and then after school visited different stations to try other activities. Some children even dressed as mad scientists, sporting improvised lab coats.

We follow the state and county curriculum guidelines to provide lots of hands-on activities for the students.

In addition to the ever-popular pastime of shaping volcanoes out of clay and pouring baking soda and vinegar into the hollows to make them erupt, students and parents learned about aerodynamics, electricity, the human body, chemistry, and physics.

The teachers chose ones [activities] that they enjoy teaching, Caskey told Education World.


Some activities put more emphasis on fun -- like pinning the skull on a skeleton while blindfolded and playing Bingo with science vocabulary words -- while others required more research and development. Students and parents, for example, tested different paper airplane designs to determine which model flew best; tried various ways to illuminate a light bulb; predicted which items would stick to magnets and then tested their hypotheses; and attempted to make a paper clown balance on a finger by taping pennies to different sides.

Families also competed to see how long it would take to complete a science puzzle and created water and aspirin molecules using toothpicks and gum drops.

And just like in the real world of science, some projects require more patience than others. Students drew faces on foam cups filled with dirt and planted grass seeds so the cup people would grow hair.

Isolating the most popular activities would be difficult, according to Caskey, since all have been well received. I havent heard any complaints from the students! she joked.




Show-Biz Science


Article by Ellen R. Delisio
Education World®
Copyright © 2010 Education World

Originally published 08/23/2010