Middle School Science Night Can be Fun and Educational

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Phoenix Daniels takes great care in her Science Night demonstration last year.

By Sue Moore

The 15th Annual Science Night at the Vicksburg Middle School will take place Wednesday, March 13 from 6-8 p.m. It has evolved from something small to a well-attended community event, said Lisa Harbour, the 8th grade science teacher who is in charge.

Lots of businesses from the greater Kalamazoo manufacturing community take up Harbour’s invitation to attend at their own cost. “The companies are proud of what they do and are committed to community involvement. They volunteer their time so students and adults can learn about what the companies do and the necessary skills for the job. All of the presenters are there by choice and share their passion and knowledge of science and technology in their everyday work life, Harbour said.

The night was organized 15 years ago. The science department under the leadership of Mary Burke wanted to provide an opportunity for students to experience science with their parents. The first year, they did everything themselves without outside presenters. The lure was free pizza and door prizes to encourage attendance. Approximately 125 attended, Harbour recalled.

Carol Lohman was Burke’s assistant in the coordination of the event. In 2017, Harbour became the coordinator and poured her heart and soul into planning the event on her own. A horrific wind storm that knocked out the power in the village on the day of Science Night caused the school to cancel the event just three hours prior to the doors opening. “I was devastated,” Harbour recalled. “2018 became my next real event and I have to say it was awesome. We had over 20 presenters and approximately 575 people attending.”

“I have had the most luck recruiting companies by attending the MiQuest Career field trip with our 8th grade students. As a chaperone, I took the opportunity to recruit possible presenters from what I saw at the event,” she said. The presentations in Vicksburg might include live animals, electricity activities, chemistry experiments, telescopes, rocks, robots, water, hydraulics and pneumatics. Each presenter is in a different classroom. Attendees move at their own pace. Many of the presenters have giveaways. Most rooms have hands-on activities.

It is intended for students in grades 6-8 and their families, but any community member is invited to attend. There is no cost for the event.

Current list of presenters includes: Kalsec, Bridge Organics, Critchlow Alligator Sanctuary, Pfizer (chemistry), Kalamazoo Watershed Council, Perrigo, Thermofisher (forensics crime lab), Stryker Instruments, Mann-Hummel, Humphrey Products, Flowserve, Kalamazoo Astronomical Society, WMU Geology, KVCC Groves Center, Pfizer (quality control and sterile manufacturing), Consumers Energy, KRESA – Innovation Center, VMS & VHS Robotics Team + 4th/5th Lego League, KRESA Vet Science, KRESA VHS Engineering, KRESA Film/Video, Kathy Mirakovits (forensic science).

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