At Mack Benn Jr. Elementary last Tuesday, parents and teachers participate in a math and science night, which teacher and organizer Liz Petry said emphasized the fun aspects of the two subjects.
At Mack Benn Jr. Elementary last Tuesday, parents and teachers participate in a math and science night, which teacher and organizer Liz Petry said emphasized the fun aspects of the two subjects.

Archived Story

Making math and science fun

Published 10:45pm Monday, March 11, 2013

Mack Benn Jr. Elementary School students and parents pushed aside their textbooks last Tuesday for an evening of scientific discovery and mathematical problem solving with pizzas, marine animals and even a Van de Graaff ball.

Called Math and Science Alive, the event included practical demonstrations and activities presented by businesses and groups including BASF, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and Surry’s nuclear power plant.

“It was to allow parents and students to work together and see how math and science can be fun,” said gifted resource teacher Elizabeth Petry, the event’s organizer.

“Some of the activities were things we do in schools, to let parents know what students do besides just reading a book.”

Between 100 and 150 parents enjoyed the event with their children, Petry said.

The first activity, Mathematical Pizzas, had groups of four learn the exact quantities of ingredients to go on their circles of dough by solving math problems.

Groups used designated patterns to spread the toppings. Pizzas were then — of course — baked and enjoyed, Petry said.

But probably the most popular item, she said, was the Virginia Air and Space Center’s Van de Graaff ball, which charges a metal globe with high voltages, with some entertaining results.

Watching their classmates’, parents’ and teachers’ hair stand on end while they touched the globe proved the highlight of the night, Petry said.

Other crowd-pleasers included the study of adaptations with “Survival Island”, a math carnival and stations, including “Fun with Factoring,” “Edible Cells,” “Physical Changes,” “Motion in Action” and “Energy Sources,” according to Petry.

Up there in popularity with the static electricity ball was a touch tank, which allowed students and parents to touch sea creatures including horseshoe and hermit crabs.

“It was a great night,” Petry said. “When I was in school, science had you stuck in a book. They were up and moving, making edible scales and doing investigations — it was fun.”

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