Westwood School students enjoy electrifying lessons

Feb. 23—Jack Redding, a fifth-grader at Dalton's Westwood School, rapidly rubbed a balloon on his hair. He then smiled as he held the balloon in front of a soda can and watched as the can rolled toward the balloon.

He then rubbed two balloons and showed how they repelled each other.

"That's static electricity," said Redding. "We've been learning about different types of electricity and magnets. It has been very interesting and very fun."

Recently outreach educators from the Creative Discovery Museum in Chattanooga came to Westwood to engage fifth-graders in some experiments in electricity and magnetism.

"That's what they are currently studying, so this ties into our curriculum," said fifth-grade teacher Jennifer Ulman. "They are very excited. They have been looking forward to this."

Redding said the experiments have "definitely made it easier to understand what we've been studying."

The Creative Discovery Museum has exhibits and hands-on programs that let children learn about science, technology and engineering topics. Its outreach program sends certified teachers into schools around the greater Chattanooga area to teach children about various topics.

"We bring lessons out to schools in the area," said Brittney Noland, an outreach educator with the Creative Discovery Museum. "We do lessons for preschool up to high school. We have seven outreach educators right now, and we go out several times each week. Today, I have about an hour with each (fifth-grade) class."

The classroom was set with several stations, and small groups of students rotated around the room spending five minutes at each station, learning about electromagnets, conductors, static electricity, insulators, circuits and other topics.

One exercise involved an energy stick.

"It has two metal rings on the end," Noland said. "When you hold both of those rings together it lights up and makes a sound."

Two students grasped the stick, one on each end, and it lit up and buzzed, showing that the students had made a circuit.

"They love to do science experiments, so they have been very eager to get to do this," said Westwood teacher Julie Cody.

Student Kelvin Hudson said he enjoyed the experiences.

"We've learned a lot today about conductors and electricity and magnets," he said.