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Piner High School students help open younger eyes to science

  • Jesse Thunder, center, prepares to drop a marble as Josue Gomez, left, and Blaine Mills continue to work on their roller coaster during Science Day at Piner High School, in Santa Rosa, on Friday, March 15, 2013. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)

Piner High senior Allison Lopez was on her hands and knees Friday morning, fiddling with a marble and a foam tubing "rollercoaster" as a gaggle of fifth- and sixth-graders looked on.

"It slows and it can't get back up, it needs a lot of momentum. See right here? It needs more speed. What would make it go faster?" she asked the younger students.

After a few moments, Bellevue Elementary School fifth-grader Brian Mondragon piped up.

Elementary Science Day At Piner High


"Hey guys, what if we stuck these two together?" he said.

"Try it," Lopez said and watched the students get back to work.

The exchange was typical of conversations had at Piner High's first-ever science day Friday during which mostly sixth-graders from Bellevue, Schaefer Charter School and Olivet Charter School spent nearly three hours on the Fulton Road campus building rollercoasters out of foam, watching metals burn, launching paper rockets and creating slime.

"We mostly want to have students have a positive experience with science," said Piner physics teacher Steve Carpenter.

Carpenter started the program four years ago, sending senior science students into four sixth-grade classrooms to teach once-a-month, hands-on lessons. After a one-year hiatus, the program returned in the fall and expanded to include three schools and six different classrooms.

But Friday's event was a first.

By Joey Ruiz's estimate, it was a success.

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