JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska —
Every Thursday at the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Library, young scientists come together for a meeting of the minds. For thirty minutes, starting at 6:30 p.m., a group of 14 children with parents in tow experiment with everyday household items at the JBER Science Club.
The JBER Science Club became a year-round event after library staff noticed the interest in summer science, technology, engineering and math activities, said Jim Campbell, JBER Library technician. While primarily geared toward school-age children, all are welcome to participate.
“Science Club is great because it keeps kids busy in the summer months,” said Gloriann McLeary, a teacher’s assistant for Ursa Major Elementary School. “It keeps them occupied with something educational, where they’re not just starring at a screen all day.”
The library, as one would expect, is a great resource when creating new experiments every week.
“[This week] we are learning engineering and physics by making catapults out of rubber bands, plastic spoons and popsicle sticks,” Campbell said. “We keep it simple. It’s not what you would find in a classroom. Those lessons are usually built from the week’s lesson, leading up to a big experiment. We just have fun for half an hour and call it science.”
All avenues of STEM are explored at times, tying the lessons to JBER. In previous weeks, attendees explored the concept of propulsion with air-powered balloon rockets, or air resistance with grocery-bag parachutes.
“One nice thing about science is failure is just as important as success,” Campbell said. “There are so many inventions that were actually failures of other things, and without that failure there would be no success. It’s an oxymoron there is no failure in science – you always learn something. Sometimes you learn more from the failure than you do from succeeding.”
Famously, bubble wrap was invented in the late 1950s while scientists were attempting to create textured wallpaper.
Science Club is a gateway for kids curious about the world around them.
“If all we do is teach kids to associate the word science with fun, then we’ve done something right,” Campbell said.
For more information on JBER library events, visit jberlife.com