Sample Description of Family Science Nights for Children and Parents



Family science nights usually last one and one-half hours and involve three aspects.

(1)    Introduction. Initially we will, with help from children who volunteer from the audience, do several demonstrations that set the tone for the evening or introduce later activities. We will use the element of surprise wherever possible to make the demonstrations more stunning and to raise the overall excitement level. For example, we may have a child hold a Ziploc bag filled with water while we try to push a pencil through the bag to illustrate some of the principles involved in a later activity in which children will try to push a wooden skewer through a balloon without puncturing it. We will also set the ground rules for how children and parents will work together on the activities and move from on activity to another at their own pace.


(2)    Work by Children and Parents. Children, with occasional assistance from one or more parents or adult partners, will perform many of about 20 hands-on activities covering a number of fields in science. Instructions for each activity will be provided at each station. Samples of these activities can be sent upon request. After our visit, you may copy these for use by your teachers or parents. You may charge for copying, but not sell them for profit. Some are rather short; some require considerable time. Some can be done entirely by the child, using occasional help with reading or direction from a parent for younger ones; some require the child and parent to work together as a team. Most activities have some additional questions to think about that relate to the activity. Several result in products that can be taken home as noted specifically on the instruction sheets. Again, the element of surprise is frequently present.

Priscilla will circulate through the crowd to answer questions, or ask questions to et participants to seek answers to their own questions, and to provide more materials when necessary. A book table will also be available so that parents can study examples of materials that can be purchased for use at home.

(3)    Conclusion. At the end of the evening, we will pick one or two activities to discuss in more detail, to show how they might be done more efficiently or effectively, or to explain the principles or applications of the activities.

We need nearly one and one-half hours to set up ahead of the program, meaning that the cafeteria or other work area has to be clear or at least partially clear of after-school activities at that time. We also need up to an hour afterwards and two or three parents help us pack up our equipment and clean up. We have found that we can handle 75-80 students and their parent(s) or adult partners (150-170 people total) assuming you have appropriate space and about 20 seven or eight-foot tables (or 10 folding double tables). Whatever number we decide based on cafeteria size, you must devise a plan to hold to that number. There should be one table situated at the front for the Introduction with space in front of it for children to sit initially on the floor. In addition, there should be water (hot and cold if possible nearby, and 2-4 large trash barrel should be available. We ask that your school or PTA contribute $50.00, or more at your discretion, to cover the cost of expendable supplies for the Family Science Night.

Normally the Family Science Night begins at either 6:30PM or 7:00PM, depending on the work schedules of your parents. Upon request we can spend a couple of sample fliers for the Family Science Night and also copies of articles from the Wall Street Journal and The Christian Science Monitor that tell a little about us We prefer to have teachers come to the Family Science Night too, with or without children, both to learn about new activities and to observe the child-parent interaction.

Priscilla Scaife,, 518-250-5623


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