Science Enrichment Day: Millbrook Elementary Joins Annual Celebration of Science

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions engineer Aaron Rieske drops pennies to test the design of an aluminum foil boat created by the Millbrook Elementary students Cullen Seely (left) and Sloan Appignani during Science Enrichment Day.

AIKEN, S.C., (February 22, 2018) – Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) scientists and engineers recently participated in Science Enrichment Day at Aiken’s Millbrook Elementary School.

“This is a day each school year where we ask our faculty and students to spend the entire day exploring the wonders and diversity of science,” said Aiken County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Sean Alford. “The primary goal is to deepen our appreciation of science and its impact on the life of each student.”

According to Gladys Moore, SRNS Education Outreach, more than a dozen SRNS employees chose to use their Friday off to touch the lives of as many Millbrook students as possible, creatively providing a wide variety of hands-on science activities.

“This has been a wonderful opportunity to reach out and help them understand the value of being inquisitive, learning by asking questions,” said Hannah Curry, SRNS Engineer. “It feels good and is rewarding to see them having fun while learning.”

The students of Kim Mitchell’s first grade class were enthralled with testing the principle of water buoyancy using pennies and self-made boats of aluminum foil. Each table of children contributed their own version of a boat and found out how many pennies it would hold before sinking.

SRNS volunteers Curry and Aaron Rieske, along with members of Mitchell’s class, were surprised and elated when several of the simple boats held 50 to 90 pennies before going under.

Other experimental science activities included Chemistry Rocks, Simple Machines, Potato Batteries, Static Electricity, Electromagnetics, Edible Earth, Dry Ice and Cyber Security.

“It’s absolutely wonderful what’s being done today,” said Mitchell. “To be able to see the excitement on their faces during the hands-on part of these experiments is so rewarding. We greatly appreciate all those who have come out and volunteered their time to be with us.”

The U.S. has ranked low among economically developed nations regarding students proficient in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for many years.

"This is a serious issue for our nation that must be addressed," said Alford. “Systematically encouraging our nation’s students at a young age to acknowledge the importance of studying STEM-related material will greatly help to close this gap."

Moore believes Aiken County Public Schools officials are steadily doing their part, as demonstrated with the success of the Science Enrichment Day program. “And, we’re here to help in any way we can at SRS,” added Moore. “We all benefit from programs like Science Enrichment Day.”

The primary goal of the SRNS Educational Outreach organization is to enhance interest in science, mathematics, engineering and technology and to support improvements in education in the Central Savannah River Area by using the unique resources available at the Savannah River Site.

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