Element excitement

Ramsey students win Discovery Education science assembly

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From left; Madi Symons, Taleya Jones, and Jocelyn Dennis wave their hands in the air, sending “energy” to pretend atoms in a water jug in a demonstration by science guru Patti Duncan of what contained matter will do when it is excited during an assembly at Ramsey Magnet Elementary School of Science put on by Siemens Celebrates Science and Discovery Education.

COEUR d'ALENE - Adding Mentos candies to 2-liter bottles of Diet Coke equaled carbonated geysers and a gym full of howling elementary students during the interactive science assembly Wednesday morning at Ramsey Magnet School of Science.

"It was a really interesting experience with all the explosions and the racing and it's just really cool," said third-grader Taleya Jones, 9, of Coeur d'Alene. "It's really fun to watch. Two thumbs up."

Every atom in the room seemed to vibrate with a high molecular excitement as about 450 first- through third-grade students enjoyed the free assembly. "Bending the Elements: Exploring the Way the World Works" was presented by Discovery Education and the Siemens Foundation and hosted by Patti Duncan of Lakeville, Penn., who is the manager of instructional implementation for Discovery Education.

Ramsey was one of two schools in the nation to host the free assembly by winning the Siemens Science Day Ultimate Cool School Sweepstakes, thanks to school librarian Chris Valiquette. Valiquette, of Coeur d'Alene, said she entered the sweepstakes every entry day since September.

"Ramsey's a science school, so I thought well, what better than to have a big science company come in and show us some more science projects?" she said.

She found out a month ago that the school had won.

"I thought it was great," she said. "I didn't realize we were going to be on across the nation that much."

The assembly emphasized the significance of science in everyday life. It was streamed live as part of a "virtual field trip" to classrooms across the country.

"I think it's fun learning about science and doing all the stuff that makes science fun," said third-grader Tanner Hite, 9, of Coeur d'Alene.

Tanner was one of dozens of students who volunteered for experiments, ranging in topics from atmospheric pressure and properties of gases, to electricity, properties of water and scientific observations.

Duncan's lively interactive demonstrations included showing the students how energy works using a water drum and bouncy balls, using a turkey baster filled with water to create a sound like a slide whistle and an "energy stick of science" that only lit up when more than one human was in contact with it.

"The kids that came up, they participated, they answered the questions. They played along, which is always important," Duncan said. "And they had fun, which is the most important piece. I had a great time here at Ramsey."

A former science teacher for middle and high school, Duncan shared her passion for science and educating. She said kids today will have jobs that have yet to be created, and having a good understanding of science and problem-solving will help them in their futures.

"If we can focus more on knowing how the world works and then utilizing it in practice every day, then they'll be better readied for their careers and their jobs and their life," she said. "My goal is to encourage teachers and students all over the country to know that what matters is the big picture and the skill sets. Knowing and generally fostering a desire to understand how things work, that's basically the message that I try to get them to understand."

The assembly footage will be available online at http://goo.gl/uw2AFF sometime next week.

Ramsey Magnet Elementary School students Madison Machado, left, Madison Cummings, right, and Discovery Education science guru Patti Duncan react as diet soda rains down on them Wednesday during an interactive assembly the school won in a national sweepstakes.

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