By Lorraine DiSano
What do high school students and elementary school students have in common? Would you expect it to be a passion for learning about animals (biology), explosions (chemistry) and space (physics)? The love of science is one way Byram Hills High School students and Coman Hill students have come together and formed strong connections.
The Science Ambassadors Club at Byram Hills High School has a mission to connect the great high school student minds with younger students encouraging them to find their passion in STEM fields.
Due to COVID-19, this year looked a little different for the Science Ambassadors Club. A typical year for the club entailed visiting all the 2nd grade classes two to three times a year and teaching a science lesson involving a fun lab. This year the club was not able to make a trip over to Coman Hill. This has not stopped Mr. Borneman, Mia Dittrich (Co-President), Luke Briody (Co-President), Lila Zacks (Junior Advisor), and the rest of the 41 club members from creating connections with the younger students.
In past years, one of the major challenges the club faced was figuring out how and when to visit the 2nd graders. Mr. Borneman stated, “At the end of last year, during quarantine, it opened my eyes to a major advantage. My AP Chemistry class really showed me that the program Flipgrid can be used as a way to communicate with students. The whole use of Flipgrid alleviated that struggle of how we are going to meet up with these students and mentor them.”
With the new use of Flipgrid, the Science Ambassadors Club was able to overcome their challenges. Flipgrid is a program that allows students to make videos which are easily submitted allowing everyone in the class to view them. Through reevaluating this year’s approach, Luke stated, “Although at first we thought COVID-19-related restrictions could pose a problem, working with students online has actually given us the opportunity to interact with them more than we likely would have, albeit from afar. I’m very optimistic for the rest of the year and beyond!”
With this technology, it became possible to expand the club to not only interact with second graders but 5th graders as well. All of the members of the club were assigned one of the 16 classes creating groups of two to three people per 2nd/5th grade class.
The past few weeks of January, the club members reached out to their classes introducing themselves. Each of the 2nd and 5th graders have since then taken the time to send their own introduction videos telling the club members all the reasons they like science. One of the second graders from Mrs. Rowell’s class responded in her video by saying, “What I like about science is mixing things together and animals.”
After receiving all of the 2nd and 5th grade responses, each member took the time to make a video response in reply to each of the students.
As January 27th approached, the first round of experiments were recorded. Mia, Luke and Lila came up with an experiment entailing only a few materials: milk, soap, food coloring and a toothpick. As the food dye is added to the middle of the milk and a soap covered toothpick is put into the food dye, a tie- dye effect occurs. Each group recorded themselves doing the experiment and sent it to their corresponding class through Flipgrid. This gave all of the 2nd and 5th graders a chance to watch the experiments anytime and even try it at home.
Every member of the Science Ambassadors Club has a true passion for science. Eva Shrayer, a junior, said, “The world is constantly changing because of science, and I wanted to share that magic with little kids.”
The Science Ambassadors Club is off to a great start this year. They are ready to continue to build connections with the 2nd and 5th graders and ultimately try to inspire each and everyone one of them.