|An experiment with paper airplanes at the science fair at Columbia Elementary School in Annandale.|
Science can be lots of fun – at least that’s how it looked at Columbia Elementary School’s science fair Nov. 17 as kids enthusiastically clustered around a dozen tables with hands-on activities like aviation with paper airplanes, 3D math with castle geometry, forensic science with fingerprint analysis, and much more.
The science fair was run by staff and volunteers from the Children’s Science Center, a nonprofit organization that opened a Children’s Science Center Lab in Fair Oaks Mall in June, and plans to establish a full-fledged, 30,000-square foot children’s science museum near Dulles Airport in 2020.
The Children’s Science Center is aimed at getting kids interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through fun, interactive activities and programs in an informal setting.
“Until the science lab opened a few months ago, Northern Virginia was the most populous community without a children’s museum or science center. That’s an incredible void,” says Adalene “Nene” Spivy, executive director of the Children’s Science Center.
The science lab has so far had 20,000 visitors, Spivy says. It’s open seven days a week, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased online.
Several members of the Children’s Science Center-sponsored Youth Leadership Council helped explain science experiments at the Columbia Science Fair. Council members, age 10-16, learn about science while working on presentation skills.
The Children’s Science Center hosts about 50 science fairs a year at elementary schools throughout Northern Virginia. Upcoming science fairs in the Annandale/Mason area are scheduled for Dec. 1 at Canterbury Woods Elementary School, Dec. 5 at Woodburn, in January at Beech Tree, and April at Westlawn.
The science fairs are so popular, school sites are chosen by lottery. It took Columbia five years of trying before the school was selected, says Assistant Principal Rekha Patel. The best things about the science fair, she says, are the focus on hands-on learning and engaging parents.