A dozen elementary school students watched with anticipation as Tom Overgaag ’17 dropped more than $15 in quarters onto a newspaper boat floating in a plastic container filled with water. When the 62nd quarter dropped aboard, the paper boat teetered, then slowly sank as students laughed and cheered.
The “Let’s Build” workshop was one of several activities Randolph education majors set up for 51 visiting Amherst County Talented and Gifted (TAG) students in grades 3-5 on Wednesday. For this hands-on learning experience, TAG students were split into groups and crafted handheld “boats” using household materials like paper, plastic wrap, and aluminum foil. Overgaag then tested their durability by piling quarters on them, while Jessica Nowak ’16 kept a tally of how many each boat held before sinking.
In the next room on the top floor of Thoresen Hall, TAG students learned about polymers and their absorbent properties. Grace Cummins ’16 told TAG students that skin, paper, plastic, wood, and cotton all contained polymers. For this particular exercise, students sealed a diaper and colored water in Ziploc bags and shook them to see how much water the polymers in the diaper absorbed.
Terry Meadows chuckled as his 4th grader son, Bryce, waved and beat his bag against the table while trying to force the diaper to absorb the water. “It’s a great experience for this group,” he said. “My son is mostly just excited about touring a college. This is the third one he’s been to, but the first program he’s done with college students.”
In the third station, groups used fingerprinting to solve mysteries, like identifying who allowed a butterfly out of its cage. TAG students also dipped their own thumbs in chalk dust and pressed them against a paper chart to see what kind of impression it left. After identifying and matching the culprit’s prints on the butterfly cage, one student excitedly said, “Now I can tell when my brother has been in my room.”
While at Randolph the TAG students also ate with College students in Cheatham Dining Hall and toured the campus. Tia Jones ’17 said she was impressed by the TAG students’ intelligence and enjoyed making science fun for them.
“They’re all gifted and smart,” Jones said. “The funniest thing was when we were in the dining hall and one of them made cheese fries. I was surprised because I didn’t think of combining the cheese and fries and microwaving them until I was a sophomore!”
Beverly Brown, gifted education specialist for Amherst County Public Schools, praised the Randolph education majors for their work with the students. “The children were still excited about the adventure and talked about it on the way home,” she said. “Some of the many highlights were the science experiments, lunch, and the game room. I think Randolph College may have recruited some future students today.”