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April 25, 2013

Kids go to college

CHICKASHA — As a biology professor at the University of Science and Arts Oklahoma, Jeanette Loutsch is used to keeping the attention of a lot of students.

Yesterday, Loutsch and several USAO science students entertained and educated 210 first graders from Bill Wallace Early Childhood Center.

The large body of students were divided into groups and visited 12 exhibits on the grounds of the USAO oval and in the Davis Hall building.

"We've hidden science in fun," Loutsch said.

The students seemed happy to look for it.

At the archeology site, various bones were partially buried in sand. Using dry paint brushes, the students dug up and dusted off the bones.

Anyway, who needs paint brushes to paint when you can paint with bubbles? That's just what the Bill Wallace students did at the "Painting with Bubbles" exhibit. Food coloring and bubble solution were mixed and the bubbles were blown onto paper. The students then drew shapes around the resulting circles and hung them to dry.

A few feet away, the first graders got to have more fun with bubbles as they learned why bubbles are round. Crouched over a kiddie pool, they used various bubble wands to make different sizes and shapes of bubbles as well as create foam.

Science was in the air indoors as well. Using coffee filters and paper clips representing little people, USAO students taught the Bill Wallace students how to make parachutes, which they tested. Paper projectiles were also enjoyed in Davis Hall as the first graders learned how to make paper pinwheels. Fingerprinting was also on the itinerary.

On their way on the scavenger hunt, the Bill Wallace students made some animal friends at the Traveling Tails petting zoo. A pygmy goat, a giant bunny and a little grey pig were just a few of the friendly critters on offer for petting.

From furry to creepy crawly, the next exhibit was called "Beetle Mania." The first graders learned that there are more species of beetle than any other animal.

The first graders got another taste of science at the "Food Perception" table where they tasted jelly beans with and without vanilla flavoring, Loutsch said.

The scientific met the artistic as the student listened to science themed poetry, sang science songs and played percussive instruments.

Loutsch said she and the students had about two months to plan the several hours of fun.

Last year, Loutsch read literature by Dr. Suess to Deanna Bumpas' first grade class for Drover Day. Loutsch offered to host a field trip at USAO for the students. Rory Barron, a biology major, was one of the students who helped Loutsch with the field trip.

"I hope they have a good time and see how much fun science can be," Barron said.

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