BASF, schools team up for Kids Lab
Published 10:53 pm Wednesday, June 1, 2011
BASF is honoring elementary school students and teachers who served as guinea pigs in the first year of the company’s Kids Lab program in Suffolk schools.
Florence Bowser, Hillpoint, Mack Benn Jr., Nansemond Parkway and Robertson elementary schools all had students take part in the program.
BASF employees visited Hillpoint June 1 to hand out certificates of participation to all of the fourth-graders. They also awarded two randomly selected students — Kasey Benigus and Kenneth Bethel — $50 gift certificates.
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They will visit the other schools over the next two weeks.
Kids Lab, originally conceived in 1997, is an international program offered by BASF that brings chemistry to life for students ages 6 to 12.
This is the first year the program has been extended to Suffolk schools, and Suffolk’s BASF Kids Lab coordinator Beverly Nedab said it was a bigger success than she imagined.
“It’s been overwhelmingly successful,” she said. “I had targeted maybe one class to be involved, and we’ve gotten 500 (students) into it.”
To gain interest, Nedab approached BASF’s school-business partners with the idea, and several schools told her they were interested.
She said she didn’t want to tell any school “no,” so she and other BASF employees tried to ensure everyone who wanted to could participate.
Employees volunteered to go to each school for two-day periods once a month and conduct experiments with the students.
The students did experiments in which they explored chromatography, the separation of mixtures; concocted homemade Silly Putty; and created their own lava lamps.
Hillpoint assistant principal Lori Mounie said she thinks the students benefit from seeing the scientific process.
“They actually got to feel like they were true scientists,” she said. “Hands-on learning is always the best way to go; it engages all learners.”
Nansemond Parkway had the largest group that participated, with about 200 third- and fifth-graders. Assistant principal Lorri Banks said she was very pleased with Kids Lab because it made science and chemistry real to the students.
“It brought science to life for them,” she said. “The kids really loved it.”
Both Mounie and Banks said they hope to continue the program at their schools.
Nedab said the Kids Lab program allows BASF to interact with students at its partner schools.
“It allows us to partner and to introduce what we do to the local schools, which is also necessary to what they are teaching in the schools,” she said.
It’s also beneficial because students are introduced to career opportunities in science, Nedab said.
“We have made science a little bit different,” she said. “It’s a field that not many children are interested in, and we need to pique that interest again.”
The employees will visit Florence Bowser on June 7, Nansemond Parkway on June 10, Robertson on June 13 and Mack Benn Jr. on June 15 for awards programs.