Harmony Elementary students rock out during day of science

Kids may not always be as excited about geology as they are about space, electric magnets or the human body. But at Harmony Elementary School on Thursday, Feb. 5, students smiled and laughed as they spent the day learning about rocks.

Teachers from the Pacific Science Center’s Science on Wheels program visited the school Thursday. They started with an assembly that gave kids a taste of what they may not know about rocks and volcanoes. Science center teachers then went to classrooms and taught students about fossils, volcanoes and minerals.

Displays in the gym let students run around on mock dinosaur prints and inspect glowing rocks or crystal formations. One display had kids build a “disaster dollhouse” to see if it would be strong enough to hold up in an earthquake.

During the assembly, kids burst out in laughter as teachers dressed up in rock ’n’ roll outfits. After the teachers explained what kind of rocks they were really talking about, they demonstrated how granite rocks form over time. Another demonstration showed how movement of tectonic plates forms volcanoes.

Second-grader Palmer Detta said he has always wondered how rocks were formed.

“It was so fascinating to me and I really wanted to know,” Detta said.

Charlene Steagall, a parent volunteer who helped set up the displays, said she remembered learning a lot when the Pacific Science Center came to her school when she was a kid. She said kids absorb more information when they are having fun.

“They feel like they’re in their zone more,” Steagall said. “They don’t realize that they’re listening, but they are.”

The Science on Wheels program visits schools across the state. Other subjects it focuses on include math, physics, space, the human body or engineering. The program frequently visits Harmony, which is east of Bellingham in the Mount Baker School District, and earlier in the week was at Bridgeway Christian Academy.

Harmony Elementary Principal Justin May said the school is fortunate to have the Science on Wheel teachers share their knowledge and excitement.

“The skill and knowledge they bring is really inspiring to the students and our staff,” May said.

He said he enjoyed watching students in the gym show genuine interest in geology.

“It’s just so exciting to see that come to life,” May said.