Two dozen kids piled into the Frothingham Library in Fonda on Monday, excited to explore science with hands-on experiments and activities.
“I love science,” said Rachel Zuppardi, 10. “It is my favorite subject in school.”
For the 20th year, the Mohawk Valley Library System, which includes Fulton, Montgomery, Schenectady and Schoharie counties, has hosted the Science @ the Library program. The event is free for kids and adults. Currently, five libraries are participating in the program and more are expected to be added this fall. This is the third year Frothingham Library has held the popular program.
For an hour and a half, kids had the opportunity to walk around the Frothingham Library — which was set up like a science fair — and test out the experiments. The experiments covered a wide variety of topics such as energy, buoyancy, sound, light, electricity, magnetism and chemistry.
Sue Rokos, the assistant director and youth services consultant at the Mohawk Valley Library System, said it’s crucial to have programs like Science @ the Library because it allows kids to participate in science education during the summer months.
“They are especially important now because of STEM,” she said.
Many of the fastest-growing careers now require a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) background.
“It’s really important for them to see at a young age that science is fun and not intimidating,” Rokos said, “and the need to give children opportunities for learning and to explore.”
The program Science @ the Library is made possible though a $3,000 grant from the GE Volunteers Foundation.
The funding goes toward buying science books and the hands-on experiment equipment and covers repairs for any broken equipment. The GE partnership also allows for the Senior Elfun scientists from GE to come in and help engage and explain the experiments to the kids and their parents.
Hal Webster, 94, a retired GE lab researcher, had the kids enthusiastic about electricity.
“Well, getting kids interested in science at an early age is a big thing,” he said. “My hope is that they get interested and question. Curiosity I think is a great thing.”
Zuppardi enjoyed the experiment Webster was conducting using a Van de Graaff generator. The kids placed their hands on the large generator, shaped like a silver globe, and were then able to feel an electric charge. The charge caused their hair to stand up straight. Webster would then explain to them why this happened. Both Zuppardi and her brother, Ian Zuppardi, 7, found this very entertaining.
“First it felt like electrical charges moving up your hands,” Rachel Zuppardi said. “It felt like your head expanded 10 times its size.”
Ian Zuppardi nodded his head in agreement.
“It was fun,” he said. “I could feel it.”
Phyllis Budka, 71, a retired metallurgical engineer from GE, was another one of the scientists at the event.
“I love watching the children’s eyes grow big when they see some of the effects,” Budka said. “I call it turning your muscle energy into electrical energy.”
According to Rokos, more than 12,000 individuals have participated in the program to date.
“You want to get children hooked on science,” Budka said. “I love science and I want others to love it, too.”