OIST × Onna Children's School of Science was conducted in person for the first time in three years
A total of 130 children took part in the engaging summer science program.
OIST and Onna Village collaborated to host the annual summer vacation program, known as the "Children's School of Science" spanning five days from August 14th. This marked the program's first in-person session in three years. Over 130 participants, ranging from 4-year-olds to 6th graders, joined the program. Initially established in 2010 as the “Children's School of Science for Onna Village children”, its popularity led to the creation of an "open class" in 2022, allowing children from outside the village to participate.
This year's Children's School of Science was centered around six distinct themes tailored to various grade levels.
For first and second graders, the classes provided an opportunity to learn about familiar marine life. They observed small creatures such as baby octopuses and crabs mixed in with the packages of baby sardines sold in stores, and even listened to underwater fish sounds that are usually inaccessible.
On the third day, the 1st to 3rd graders had a lecture on prehistoric creatures discovered in geological layers. They also got hands-on experience excavating shellfish fossils from rocks collected on Hamahiga Island in Okinawa Prefecture.
Third and fourth graders participated in a program that fostered the joy of scientific discovery. In a session focused on the brain, OIST neuroscientists enlightened the students about its complexities and wonders, knowledge not typically covered in school curricula.
The 5th and 6th graders, whose theme was "Science for the World," delved into topics such as genetics, evolution, and programming using laptops. They directly interacted with scientists, accessing the latest information.
In the Open Class, a scientist specializing in microplastics guided the participants through the observation of various types of beach litter and minuscule plastic fragments only visible through a microscope. This practical approach encouraged thinking about environmental concerns from a scientific perspective.
Simultaneously, the Junior Science Program catered to junior high school students. Twelve students from Onna village and elsewhere in Okinawa engaged in experiments and lectures about magnetic and electric fields, DNA extraction, and other subjects not typically covered in school. This exposure unveiled the possibilities of science and the excitement of research.
Shotaro Shimabukuro, a 3rd grade participant at Yamada Elementary School in Onna Village, conveyed his heightened love for science due to the program. He aspires to become a scientist in the future.
More than 60 volunteers participated in this year's Children's School of Science. These volunteers included teachers from elementary and junior high schools in Onna Village, along with researchers, students, and staff from OIST. Professor Bernd Kuhn, head of the Optical Neuroimaging Unit at OIST, led the 3rd and 4th grade classes and also chaired the program's organizing committee. “This year marks the 13th iteration of the Children's Science Class, conceived to provide local children with a chance to explore science. The anticipation lies in witnessing participating children unearth the possibilities and delights of science, with the hope of nurturing brilliant future scientists right here in Onna Village.”