The Leo Bernstein Jewish Academy of Fine Arts (LBJA) might not have Miss Frizzle and her magic school bus, but it has one better— Mrs. Turpie and her wide world of science. She engages her students every day with live insects, wild weather, and more. “Stand Back… I’m Going to Try Science,” read Mrs. Turpie’s special shirt (she has one for every occasion) as she made the rounds at LJBA’s science fair on February 26.
Mrs. Turpie converted LBJA into a hands-on discovery center for the whole community. This science fair was a site to see. You might say “try[ing] science” was what this event is all about.
Older students displayed and shared their personal science experiments projects they developed throughout the year. “They get a phone call in August, before school starts,” Mrs. Terpie said. Each student received a science process packet with all the how-tos, from hypothesizing to making it happen.
It was a big deal, and one of the first real long-term projects for these 3rd through 5th graders. These projects went beyond the classroom; they allowed students to have science conversations with their families. One mother proudly announced, “this is my son’s project…let him tell you more about gears…” Another student used her brother as a test subject. He filled me in: exercise aids in mental ability. “At first I only got thirty percent. Then I exercised and got eighty five percent right.”
The projects were just the tip of the iceberg—a taste of what was in store inside. In the main room, the lower grades selected topics of interest as stations for all of the scientists among us to try. There was everything from invertebrates to eruptions, tornadoes to tail feathers.
A sign saying “Warning: Dinosaurs, Pet with Care” greeted newcomers to the chicken cage. Did you know that chickens are relatives with the velociraptor? Pictures of both animal skeletons really did show quite a resemblance. I’ve always heard you never wanted to get a chicken mad…
“Want to see a cell?” one of Mrs. Terpie’s old students who was volunteering at the fair asked my daughter. “Plants make their own sugar in their chloroplasts. Take a look.” This was all pretty neat for a kindergartener who’d never used a microscope before.
Another popular point of interest was the butterfly camouflage center. By the end of the day, the space was swarming with creative butterflies, and my daughter was among the artists-turned-insects.
Ever squirm when a cockroach comes your way? Take a look at a giant cockroach today! “They are so used to people now that they don’t even hiss and enjoy being held,” another Terpie graduate back for the day commented as the large bug slithered over her hand. Brave bug enthusiasts were free to hold the critters as well.
Then of course, there was the traditional baking soda and vinegar volcano. I watched adults and kids alike jump back (again and again) as the reaction caused the cork in the test tube to fly and go “pop”!
The Science Fair is over… well, not for Mrs. Turpie. She’ll be returning to review and grade the older students’ work.