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Valley Journals

Dads Experience Science with Their Kids

Jun 14, 2016 09:55AM ● By Tori La Rue

A father and his two kids participate in Columbia Elementary School’s science night, surrounded by hundreds of other participants. – Stacey Leavitt

By Tori La Rue | tori@mycityjournals.com


McKenna Lager and her father Andrew Lager, both Myth Buster enthusiasts, configured their own science projects at Columbia Elementary School’s first Dad and Kid Science Night on April 27.

The pair designed a catapult out of a mouse trap to fling marshmallows and paper airplanes to fly across the cafeteria. The Lagers and around 800 other participants experimented by shooting large and small marshmallows, noticing their different trajectories, and testing how different kinds of paper affected the length of a paper airplane’s flight.

“There were so many participants that is was hard to do the catapult without hitting other people, but we had a really fun time,” Andrew said. “McKenna really enjoyed it, and we will definitely do some more of these fun experiments at home.” 

Angela Drope, climate specialist at Columbia Elementary, said she initiated the Dad and Kid Science Night as a way to help fathers become more involved in their children’s education and get children interested in STEM education. She said they didn’t have to put in a lot of effort to advertise the event. 

“I sent home flyers and asked dads to RSVP,” Drope said. “My coworker and I also assembled the mouse trap catapults in the cafeteria at lunch. Occasionally we demonstrated them for the kids, and the kids were naturally curious about what we were doing. It was easy advertisement.” 

Drope said her favorite part about the science night was “watching the dads become kids again” as they raced each other with their paper airplanes. It was so well attended that Drope said she is already beginning to plan a similar activity in the future. 

“The parents and students were shocked at the amount of people in the room. I think even they were amazed at the turnout,” Drope said. 

Cameron Evans, one of the dads, said the turnout was both “impressive” and “chaotic.” He said he hopes the next Dad and Kid Science Night is held outside, where there would be more room to run around than in the lunchroom. 

“My kids were excited and had a lot of fun but got kind of tired of it towards the end as it ended up being kids running around everywhere with airplanes,” Evans said. “Also, with the amount of people it was hard to keep order or get people to follow some instructions. I was kind of disappointed it wasn’t as organized as I expected.” 

In all, Evans said he and his three kids had a good time but would have appreciated a more structured contest or more instructions. 

“We were just told to go at it and to experiment,” Evans said. “A little more guidance could have gone a long way, but we had fun.”