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During a recent afternoon on the playground, children at Lake Forest Elementary School crowded closer and clamored to help as students from Eastside High School’s S4K (Science for Kids) club prepared a science experiment called ‘Elephant Toothpaste.’ Then there were squeals, screams and laughter when a foamy concoction of hydrogen peroxide, yeast, dish soap and food coloring shot up into the air.
That’s exactly the sort of reaction the S4K students are looking for when they work with the younger kids.
“We love that they’re so engaged with the science,” said junior Rachel Turney, one of the co-founders of S4K. “We want these kids to learn hands-on and really get interested in STEM from a young age.”
For more than a year the Eastside students have been visiting the after-school programs at Lake Forest and Williams elementary schools twice a month, conducting experiments that are both entertaining and educational. During the elephant toothpaste experiment, for example, the Eastside students talked about an ‘exothermic reaction,’ which is a chemical reaction that releases energy in the form of light or heat.
Lake Forest principal Beth LeClear says her students have enjoyed the visits from the high-schoolers.
“They’re such a dedicated and inspirational group and they always come with such a well thought-out project,” said LeClear of the S4K members. “Our students really look forward to their visits and to learning more about science.”
EHS junior Reva Sabat, another co-founder of the S4K Club, says the members hope to bring the experiments to students at more elementary schools next year.
“It’s been an amazing experience, not only for the kids but for us as well,” she said. “They ask us some really good questions, and sometimes we have to go find the answers, so even we’ve learned more about science.”