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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Program seeks to make kids mad about science

"About two dozen elementary school students had their faces pressed up against a cafeteria table on a recent Friday." summarizes Yoohyun Jung, Education reporter.


Their eyes were closed and ears perked up. The kids, a mixed group of Quail Run Elementary students, were listening for a sound and guessing its identity.

Across the cafeteria, five designated volunteers were ready to make a sound. They blew into green plastic devices that make loud, duck-like noises that would make any parent cringe.

On this particular day, the children were learning about the science of sound through an afterschool program facilitated by Mad Science Tucson, a franchisee of the Montreal-based Mad Science Group Inc. It provides hands-on science experiences with a touch of theatrics.

“We just want to get kids excited about learning science,” said Joshua Manis, marketing manager at Mad Science Tucson. “Our whole philosophy is that if we can make them love science, it’s something that they are going to be invested in.”

Mad Science Tucson seeks to provide what Manis calls “edutainment.” It wants to teach science but it also wants kids to have a lot of fun and engage in hands-on activities.

The company contracts with schools or districts to do afterschool programs, provide in-class workshops and present at birthday parties or private events. Since its inception in Tucson in 1996, Mad Science Tucson has done more than 100 school programs.

There is an assortment of themes for the events and programs, which principally target kindergarteners through sixth-graders, Manis said. For example, there are 30 different kits for afterschool programs like the one at Quail Run Elementary, including chemistry, electricity, aerodynamics, bugs and detective science.

The “mad scientists” employed by the company as instructors aren’t necessarily scientists, he said. But it does look for people with certain backgrounds such as University of Arizona students who are studying sciences or people with good classroom management skills.

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Source: Arizona Daily Star and Arizona Daily Star Channel (YouTube)