Sparking the ‘spirit of inquiry’ in kids at Wadsworth Library

A group of young scientists showed their creative sides in the lower level of the Wadsworth library branch for the Philadelphia Science Festival Thursday.

The festival is a 10-day event in which local schools, universities, cultural institutions and research centers unite to put science in the spotlight by offering fun, interactive programs for Philadelphians of all ages.

Children’s Librarian Stephanie Bujak said they wanted to be a host for the festival in order to give the neighborhood kids more access to science.

“To be able to be a part of the festival and to be able to have someone come here for this neighborhood and for the families with services that we couldn’t provide without outside help, is absolutely an opportunity that we are going to jump at,” said Bujak.

She said the program has grown since last year as they transitioned from one program to five programs in a four hour block of time.

The attendees learned about magnets through the Leap into Science program, a partnership with the Franklin Institute.

Associate leader Vera Adams said the purpose of her presentation was not only to ensure that the kids had fun while learning, but teaching them that they too are scientists, which she believes is important in building confidence.

During the Everyday Physics presentation, faculty and students from the Springside Chestnut Hill Academy informed the attendees about the center of gravity through various activities. One of the activities included a competition to see who could build the biggest tower. Natisha Sloan and her daughter won second prize.

“Growing up, I learned this in school, but with the state of the school district, they won’t get this information if it is not at the library or the parent takes the time to teach them,” said Sloan who takes her daughter to the library at least once a week.

Andrew Restad, a traveling scientist for The Franklin Institute’s Traveling Science Show, challenged the kids’ understanding of the three states of matter by utilizing liquid nitrogen. During his presentation, he froze rubber balls and shrunk balloons. He even made a ball on a stick fit through a hole that was too small, demonstrating how molecules react when they are introduced to different temperatures.

“We are looking for not necessarily content, but just the enthusiasm,” said Restad. “One of the things we really push at the Franklin Institute is Ben Franklin’s spirit of inquiry.”

Presentations were also made from the Philadelphia Zoo and the Lead Poisoning Prevention for Kids and Adults.

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