Monday, December 18 , 2017, 9:45 am | Fair 54º

 
 
 
 

Hollister School Students, Families Get Their Hands On Science

37 different exhibits give students and families a chance to fuel their curiosity

Camille Lubach, 7, checks out Venus through a telescope in the parking lot at Hollister School's Science Night.
Camille Lubach, 7, checks out Venus through a telescope in the parking lot at Hollister School’s Science Night. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

From ocean creatures to heavenly bodies, students at Hollister School’s Science Night got to experience 37 different science-related exhibits Thursday. About 200 students and their families were able to meander in and out of the classrooms, taking in the scientific offerings that enabled children to explore physics, look through a telescope at Venus, handle sea creatures, and learn about human organs.

The sheer scale of the event was impressive and took organizers Mary Raven and Donna Conran nearly five months to put together. Raven, a neuroscientist at UCSB, has a kindergartner at Hollister and she was able to use many of her university connections to gain commitments to participate. As a new parent at the Goleta Union School District campus, she said she noticed Hollister didn’t have a science night so she volunteered as a PTA member. She teamed up with Conran, another new parent, whose fifth-grader had transferred in from the Hope Elementary School District.

“So between the two of us, we invited a lot of people,” Raven said.

Raven said she was surprised at how responsive the community was, despite the sour economy.

“It’s been kind of depressing lately,” she said, adding that the event was a welcome respite for kids, and their parents. Only one organization, the Santa Barbara County Department of Public Health, was unable to attend the fair because of budgetary constraints, she said.

From left, Chloe Joyles, 4; Madison Sparre, 5; and Gavin Sparre, 3, check out a decorator crab held by Michelle Stamme of UCSB's Marine Sciences program. The tidepool set up by UCSB was just one of 37 exhibits at Hollister School's Science Night.
From left, Chloe Joyles, 4; Madison Sparre, 5; and Gavin Sparre, 3, check out a decorator crab held by Michelle Stamme of UCSB’s Marine Sciences program. The tidepool set up by UCSB was just one of 37 exhibits at Hollister School’s Science Night. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

While Raven, dressed in a white labcoat, gave direction to different exhibits and talked with parents, her husband, Greg Fish, an opto-electronic engineer, showed students how light can be trapped in water. A babysitter led their kindergartner around between rooms.

“We definitely want to do it annually, but it’s a lot of effort,” Raven said.

Conran, learned a lot about how to hold a successful science night while her daughter was a student in the Hope District, which has held such fairs for years. The event had seen a lull at Hollister School and hadn’t been done in about five years.

“We had no idea what to expect,” said Conran, referring to their newbie status at the school. As she talked, a teacher stopped by to commend her accomplishment. “We’ve been hearing wonderful things,” she smiled.

Events like this are important for children, who need to understand the value of science early in life, Conran said.

“We are lacking in scientific researchers, the budgets are dwindling and we need to stay on top of our game as a country for research,” she said. “Scientific advancement and technological advancement is starting to dwindle.”

Kirk Raynor, 12, studies a chameleon studying him.
Kirk Raynor, 12, studies a chameleon studying him. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

“We need to get those kids interested and get them young,” she said. “What better way than hands-on and interactive?”

Principal Ryan Sparre said he was excited when the parent group expressed a willingness to put on the event.

“They’ve done an outstanding job, providing a wonderful experience for the families,” he said.

Sparre said the event would not have happened without parental involvement. “We are stretched so thin,” he said. “Already teachers are asked to do so many things.”

Science Days is another conversation starter between students and parents.

“Invariably, students will come back with questions and they’ll want to talk about things, and teachers can use those as teachable moments,” Sparre said. “We’re getting kids super excited about all the things that are out there.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at [email protected]

Hollister School students check out a Colombian red-tailed boa.
Hollister School students check out a Colombian red-tailed boa. (Lara Cooper / Noozhawk photo)

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