Some more news from Morehead Planetarium and Science Center in Chapel Hill this week (see the earlier post about the summer schedule ending soon) ...
Morehead is accepting registration for its middle school science club. The monthly program, which runs during the school year, features behind the scenes tours of research labs, hands-on experiments and opportunities to meet scientists. Club members meet on select Saturdays from September to April. The cost is $290 and $250 for Morehead members.
Carly Apple, Morehead's science programs manager, tells me that club members decide what they do.
"We ask club members what kind of science or activities they are interested in exploring, and then we base the activities for the rest of the year on the various interests of the members," she said. "Sometimes they don't know exactly what they want to learn about, so we have learned to build off of what seems to work well and then let them explore from there."
For instance, some kids might say they just want to learn more about explosions. So staff will build a day learning about the difference between chemical and physical explosions and then (safely) blow things up, she tells me.
The program is staffed by undergraduates at UNC-Chapel Hill. Apple said they hire mostly science or education majors who love working with kids and love tinkering and exploring. She said both groups - the middle school kids and the college students - get something out of the program.
"College students are usually very insulated on campus so they love getting a chance to work with a different demographic than just themselves," she said. "Alternately, middle school is frequently the time of life where kids decide whether or not they're going to college, so getting to explore science on a college campus, facilitated by enthusiastic and incredibly supportive college role-models, is an experience that I wish all middle schoolers could have."
Oh ... and they also have great snacks, she added.
Space is limited and there are just 13 spaces left, at last check. For more, check Morehead's website.