Children’s School of Science 2011 – Experiencing the wonder of science

From August 1st to August 5th, the OIST and Onna Village Children’s School of Science took place at the Fureai Taiken Center in Onna. This year a total of 55 elementary school students, mostly from Onna village elementary school, participated in the summer school. Students from 1st through 6th grade gathered to learn about the science going on all around us. The school was divided into 3 classes, based on three different themes. and each class was supervised by OIST researchers and staff.

1st and 2nd graders learned about water wildlife through touch and observation. The students moved to the beach near the classroom and found lots of sea creatures, such as sea cucumbers, crabs, octopus and star fish. Since the students rarely see these animals, getting up close and studying them generated great excitement.
 

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A pupil looks for wildlife in the sea
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Children investigating starch reaction using iodine
 

The 3rd-4th graders took a class on living things and DNA. The schoolchildren conducted various scientific experiments such as observing tiny organisms with microscopes and extracting  DNA from bananas. Koyachi Hikaru, a 4th grade student at Afuso Elementary School, said “The most interesting class was observing bacteria with a microscope. The school was lots of fun, and I would love to participate in the school again next year.”

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Children programing the robot

The theme for 5th-6th grade schoolchildren was “Brain and Robot” and students learned brain mechanism through building LEGO robots that react to light, sound and obstacles. Dr. Makoto Ito, OIST Neural Computation Unit Group Leader, served as a group learder for this class, and he said “Although the last day was cancelled due to the typhoon, students were able to complete the robots. I hope the students expanded their interests in robots and the brain. It was a really fun event for me to spend time with the schoolchildren.”

Mr. Ishikawa Tetsuo, Superintendent of the Onna Education Board, visited the 1st-2nd year schoolchildren while they were manipulating freshwater wildlife, and said "This is a wonderful event. This is the kind of instruction that we need, where children experience the science for themselves. In the schools, we are currently trying to increase the amount of lab work for the students."  Although the school ended one day shorter than planned due to Typhoon Muifa, the schoolchildren enjoyed spending a great time with friends and science.

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