Every day of the week, children have an opportunity to learn about science outside of the classroom, through live demonstrations held at the New York Hall of Science (NYHS).
The NYHS demonstrations, which are conducted by “explainers,” are about 15 to 20 minutes long and cover a variety of topics – math, space, flight, anatomy, chemistry and the science of sports, among others.
“The goal is to be educational, but at the same time to be fun and interactive,” said Sookram Ramsaroop, the supervisor of visitor information at NYHS.
While keeping the demos fun and safe in the time constraints, Ramsaroop said they take scientific concepts and make them so anyone can understand them. He also said they try to make them interesting for a variety of ages and that there is “something cool” about each of the different live demos.
Explainer Sazea Begum said that the key to the demonstrations is knowing the audience, since the age groups can vary. She said that in the case of a younger group, the demos are simplified.
During a recent visit to NYHS, children from School Age Services in West Point watched as an explainer dissected a cow’s eye and explained the different parts. Assistant director Cara Bronikowski said they brought the kids because they heard the Hall of Science was a great place for big groups to visit and that there was a lot to do.
Bronikowski said she thought the demonstration was very kid-friendly.
“I thought it was really good,” she said. “I liked watching the kids’ reaction to it.”
Davis Yoshitoni, 7, said that he thought the demonstration was good and his favorite thing was seeing the “blue part,” which was called the tapetum and is found in nocturnal animals. He said that something he learned during the demo was that cows can only see in black and white.
Colby Hirtz, also 7, said he liked seeing the outside part of the eye, but not the inside liquid. He got to meet the explainer and saw the eye parts up close, which he liked.
“It was totally great,” he said of the demonstration.
Kimberly David, who has been an explainer for about a year and a half and led the cow eye dissection, said that she relates the cow’s eye to a human’s eye so the children can learn the connection. She said that the demos, as well as other aspects of the NYHS, help show the kids that science is everywhere and is a part of everyday life.
Begum said that, when kids are in a classroom, science can seem like just words in a textbook and that they might not understand the role of science in their lives. But, she said that the Hall of Science helps make these connections between scientific ideas and real life concepts.
Ramsaroop said that the demonstrations are meant to take away some of the stigma science has. After a student has seen one of her demonstrations, explainer Sandy Pinez said that she hopes they remember some of the concepts while developing a passion and interest in science.
“Their eyes light up,” he said of the reaction the kids have as they watch. “We want them smiling, having fun.”
The New York Hall of Science is located at 47-01 111th Street. For more information and a schedule of the live demonstrations, and other events, visit www.nysci.org.