By Zach Chouteau
The Tara Hills Elementary School cafeteria was buzzing with activity on the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 7, with kids ranging from Kindergarten through sixth grade engaging with everything from pasta rockets to homemade ice cream displays during a lively science outreach night.
But what made the evening truly unique were the science ‘teachers’ hosting the numerous experiments on display—actually high school students themselves, as well as members of the Pinole Valley High School (PVHS) WE Science Body Club. The thriving student organization recently added Tara Hills Elementary to their agenda and now visits five local elementary schools ever year to help teach younger students the joys of science.
Helping guide the visiting contingency to Tara Hills were PVHS science teacher Ms. Johnson and student Ryan Kelly, the WE Science club president. They informed the Standard that WE Science takes a three-tiered teaching approach emphasizing robotics, STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering and Math) and MESA (Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement).
In addition to the aforementioned pasta and ice cream doings, popular demonstration tables included dry-ice bubbles, teabag rockets and CD bubbles. The impressive science club has an arsenal of more than 100 experimental demonstrations they can conduct, providing plenty of variety —and keeping things fresh for both themselves and their grammar school audiences.
A highlight of the evening was an on-stage ‘egg drop’ experiment featuring with 20 eggs released one-at-a-time from a tall ladder—each of them wrapped within a student-invented protective holder. The experiment achieved an 85 percent success rate, with 17 of the eggs ‘surviving’ the fall intact.
Tara Hills Elementary School Principal Robert Mendoza said the community togetherness was his favorite part of the evening, and mentioned that the event—via an on-site snack bar—was also raising funds for an upcoming camping trip by Tara Hills’ sixth-grade students.
Tara Hills Elementary School serves grades Kindergarten through sixth grade and is located at 2300 Dolan Way in San Pablo. Pinole Valley High School is located at 2900 Pinole Valley Road in Pinole and is in the final stages of a multi-year makeover that is scheduled to result in an all-new campus in early 2019.