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Sugar House Journal

Mom saves Hands-On Science at Highland Park

Feb 01, 2018 08h33 ● By Natalie Mollinet

Students experimented with magnets and learned about how they work with north and south poles. (April Garff/Hands-On Science teacher)

The Hands-on Science program at Highland Park has been a fun part of students’ education for years. This year, however, the program almost didn’t happen. The students were there, the money was there, but there was a lack of volunteers to help with the program.

That is until one mom stepped forward.  

“I have three kids at the school and wanted to be sure they were going to have science,” said April Garff, the mother who decide to take over.

With the Hands-On Science program students are able to get out of their regular classroom and really get their hands on science. They learn everything from physics to chemistry to the scientific method. 

“The point is to get the kids to be the ones doing the science,” Garff said. “They are handling supplies, carrying out experiments in order to really understand the scientific concepts.” 

So far, they have tested the strength of paper towel absorbency, dropped all kinds of balls from varying heights to see how their mass affects the bounce height or gravity. They also used various kinds of materials to act as beaks to show how different birds are able to adapt to their food sources. 

Thanks to Highland Park’s rainy day dance and jog-a-thon fundraiser, they had the money to do their experiments and learn about the science around them, but didn’t have the instructors. 

“The classroom teachers don’t always have the time or resources to do hands-on activities,” Garff said. “This gives kids an opportunity to see that science can be so much more and can be fun.”

Garff noticed that without the program, many students don’t get the basic knowledge that they need including what a hypothesis is; how to accurately measure things; and how to go about setting up and completing an experiment. The program gives this information to the students and allows them to put science to the test. 

Garff not only wanted to keep the program so her kids could get the experience of doing science projects, but wanted to help keep her teaching skills up. She has a teaching license and did some teaching before her kids were born and thought Hands-On Science would be a good fit. 

“Hands-On Science is the opportunity to make science ‘real’ for the students,” Garff said. “It’s a way for the students to be just like real scientists by doing what real scientists do.” 

The program is still looking for volunteers. There is a sign up on Highland Park’s website at!/showSignUp/30E044CABAE2BA4FE3-handson.