Children’s School of Science 2012 – Experience the Fun of Discovery

As a youth, did you moan over what project to submit to your teacher when you went back to school after a summer holiday? Well, the children who have participated in the Children’s School of Science will likely have no problem presenting results of their study. From August 6-10, the annual summer program hosted jointly by OIST and the Onna Village Government took place at the Fureai Taiken Center in Onna. A total of 74 students, mostly from Onna Village, but also from as far south as Urasoe City and as far north as Nago City, spent their morning hours conducting experiments on a theme of their choice. This year, the school was divided into four classes, each taught by OIST researchers and staff:

Grades 1-2: Life around us
Grades 3-4: The Ingredients of Life
Grades 5-6: Brain and Robot
Grades 4-6 (Physics Class): Phenomenal Physics

Now in its third year, the program is designed to deepen the interest of schoolchildren in science by enabling them to experience science for themselves in a lab setting. Activities include close observation of wildlife using equipment like microscopes, understanding physical phenomena and basic building blocks of life by conducting experiments, and building LEGO robots to understand how the brain works.

Chihiro Tohyama, a third grader taking part in the program for the second time, said, “It’s fun! The classes are entirely different from what I studied two years ago. I love science!”

Although the program was cut short by one day due to a tropical storm that hit Okinawa on August 6, this year saw a record 31 OIST researchers serving as teachers and tutors and 8 Onna school teachers participating, bringing the total number of volunteers to 36.

Mrs. Masami Murai, whose son, Kaito, was a member of the Grade 5-6 Class, said, “He usually spends his time playing baseball and other sports outside, or computer games inside. As I sat in the classroom and saw how much my son enjoyed the many little steps in building a LEGO robot, it was a good opportunity for me also to realize his potential. I hope he continues to experience many things, so he can choose a fitting career path.”