"This program has been going on for several years," said Goldstein, who is the Traveling Science Demonstrator for the LSC. "It was an informal thing at first, but it has really grown over the years."
Certainly, other than the students enjoying a period out of their usual classrooms, the benefit for the school is immense. Said Goldstein, "The benefit for the schools is that we come to them, they don't have to ship hundreds of kids to Jersey City - we bring it to them."
The travelling science program isn't just relegated to West New York. The LSC travels to many varied school districts throughout the school year.
The program, according to LSC officials, is divided into two main facets; classroom workshops (which include such courses as Biology, Physical Science and Earth and Space Science) and assembly programs (which last week's Memorial program was). The assembly program covers such topics as "Science Circus," "Science Sportacular," "Little Dragon's Digestive System Show," as well as classes on chemistry and weather.
The different courses are laid out to cater to different grade levels. Last week's assembly was "Science Sportacular" and as such, Demonstrator Erich Goldstein brought to the Memorial stage an array of sports equipment - basketballs, baseballs and baseball bats, tennis racquets, golf clubs and the like.
As part of the overall scope of the program, volunteers are called from the audience to participate in simple experiments using the equipment to illustrate various scientific principals.
In one experiment, Goldstein had two student volunteers come up to the stage. One stayed in front of the stage whilst the other stood on stage while holding a basketball and a medicine ball. At Goldstein's cue, the student dropped both balls at the same time. Both hit the floor at the same time, which the other student verified. This, of course, is gravity at work. Many students in the audience could be heard whispering that they thought for sure the heavier medicine ball would hit first.
In another experiment, Goldstein had four students stand on a small rotating platform and had them swing a piece of sports equipment. Every single time, their bodies rotated the opposite direction - Sir Issac Newton's Third Law in practice - "For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."
"We try to make science fun for them," said Goldstein. "It's a tough thing for the teachers to do, try to make science fun."
Added Goldstein, "I enjoy it a lot. I like teaching in an informal setting and I think the kids enjoy it as well."
According to District Supervisor of Science for West New York Maryanne Cinque, the assemblies are an important and integral part of the student's education. Said Cinque last week, "It gets the kids to focus on science outside of the classroom setting, maybe helps them apply it to their daily lives a little more. Many of these kids may be athletes, but [don't] know that science and the things they saw today have everything to do with their sport and their everyday lives."
According to Traveling Science and Demonstration Director John Herrera, "Everything is curriculum-based. We're not showing them things that they haven't learned. We're just doing it in a different way. Everything is aligned with all state standards."
Herrera added, "It's a absolute rush to see the kids faces light up when they see how something works right in front of them. Many of the kids remember you if you go back to their schools, it's great.