The next generation of researchers got a taste of the life scientific this week, as local school kids in Onna Village and neighboring regions in Okinawa participated in the 2018 Children’s School of Science. For five days, children have been shown the fascinating and fun world of science by students and researchers from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST), capturing their fascination with a new look at the world around them.
Now in its 9th year, the Children’s School of Science had been successfully run by OIST’s Community Relations Section with Onna Village, with 142 students participating this time around.
1st and 2nd graders take a tour of the OIST Marine Science Station.
Classes have been held for kids ranging from preschool to 6th grade at the Fureai Taiken Gakushu Center in Onna Village, from indoor demonstrations in the classroom to field trips to the GODAC oceoangraphic facility. The aim has been to combine real science with a sense of fun to fascinate curious young minds and to show the possibilities that studying science can hold.
The students were able to choose from a variety of classes. One class of 1st and 2nd graders built models to learn how some insects can walk on water.
1st, 2nd and 3rd grade students received a lesson in optics with OIST Student Cindy Esporlas.
1st to 3rd grade class learned about the power of static electricity with OIST technician Aysen Gurkan Ozer, while another class made mini-projectors as Kei Funakoshi demonstrated the properties of light.
For many it was their first experience meeting professional scientists, and a unique chance to have a fun and fascinating look at the structure. “We played with static electricity with balloons,” said 3rd grader Hiyori Ueshiro, “it was really fun to pick up paper with it! I would like to be a scientist when I’m older”.
Students at the Children’s School learned about how static electricity works with the help of soap bubbles.
One group of 3rd and 4th grade students had a week of aquatic themed science, and visited OIST’s Marine Science Station where they got up close with the resident octopus, squid and cuttlefish. Watching their amazing color changing abilities first hand gave them a demonstration of their unique powers of camouflage.
“It was great to feed the squid!” said Haku Higashionna, a 3rd grade student, “they’re really cool animals!"
Students visiting the OIST Marine Science Station watch as the resident squid are fed.
This year also saw older students take to the Junior Science Program at Onna Junior High School, which gave students the opportunity to turn a science classroom into a microscopy lab. After investigating the world of bacteria by culturing the microorganisms found on a single finger, the students created digital life via a simulation of evolution with computer programming. During the session titled “Let’s program life!”, tutors showed them how to turn computer code into virtual organisms.
For local science teacher Akihito Ushiro of Afuso Junior High School, this was his first experience of the course. “With this programming, I feel a little like I’m spinning numbers in my head. But it’s fun! It’s giving me new ideas for my physics classes”.
Junior High students try out laboratory techniques.
For the junior high schoolers, it was an experience that also proved inspiring. Taichi Karan, a local junior high school student, was keen to apply his experience in the computer room: “I was surprised how simple the programming was. I definitely think I can use what I learned today in the future”.
Each class group was presented with a certificate by OIST Executive Vice President for Technology Development and Innovation Dr. Robert Baughman