Learning with dads at Cade Museum

Patty Lipka, center, program director at the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention, provides an explanation of an experiment using glow sticks to a group of fourth- and fifth-grade “scientists” at the museum.

Aida Mallard/Special to the Guardian
Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 4:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 4:33 p.m.

Those who say that fathers are not typically involved in their children's education were proven wrong by a group of fathers and father figures from Caring and Sharing Learning School who took time off work to support their children during "The Nature of Science," a hands-on science program at the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention.

Twenty-one "scientists," aka fourth- and fifth-grade students, nine fathers and father figures, a few mothers, and staff from Caring and Sharing — a charter school in southeast Gainesville — participated in the program held Tuesday at the Cade Museum on S. Main Street.

Patty Lipka, program director at the Cade Museum, said the students received an overview of the scientific method, performed experiments and developed conclusions. The focus was on four concepts: What a molecule is, how hot and cold make molecules move, what a chemical reaction is and the form of energy a glow stick produces.

Armed with goggles and latex gloves, the students measured water levels, took water temperatures, immersed glow sticks into water at various temperatures — warm, cold and room temps — and explored the inside of a glow stick. They also took their experiments into a dark room to see the effect of temperature on glow sticks.

Lipka praised the students' performance. She said they tackled experiments used for sixth- and seventh-graders and did very well. "You're keeping up with my seventh-graders," Lipka told the students. "You are a dream class and absolutely amazing. I'm very impressed."

Curtis Peterson, principal at Caring and Sharing, said the hands-on science program reinforced the science concepts the students learned in the classroom. "They've studied the concepts and now they are doing it," said Peterson, adding that the hands-on program was combined with a new initiative to get fathers more involved with their children and focusing on science.

Peterson said the initiative kicked off the first day of school, with parents dropping off their students. Throughout the school year, fathers will volunteer at the school to read to student, mentor them and help out with school festivals, Cade Museum programs and other school events. He said there are six more hands-on programs planned this school year at Cade.

"We're trying to get more fathers on campus and it's working great," Peterson said. "These fathers are taking their lunch breaks here to work with their children."

Dr. Simon Johnson, who, with his wife, Verna Johnson, founded Caring and Sharing, said involving fathers with the hands-on program at the Cade Museum fits with the initiative to get fathers involved in their children's education and discussing science at home. "We want to have fathers involved in everything we do, and it's working," Johnson said.

Khaled Mohammed, math and science teacher at Caring and Sharing, said the program provided excellent exposure for the students. "The students are tremendously excited and it enhances what they're learning in class."

The event garnered high praise.

Reginald Mosley, father of Michael Davis and a student at Santa Fe College, said he skipped his class to support his son. "It gets kids out of the classroom and still learning," Mosley said. "We will work (on science) at home."

Johnny Mitchell, father of Ashanti Mitchell, said he used his lunch break at Oak Hammock to work with his daughter. "This is very educational," Mitchell said. "It's good to see kids learning, are alert and asking questions."

Jerome Williams, father of Jermisha Williams, called the program a positive experience. "It's a good way to see what my daughter is doing at school," Williams said.

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