Kids Involved Doing Science!

For over 25 years, a variety of families met weekly in Charles and Priscilla Scaife’s home in Schenectady, NY for a potluck dinner and a time of fellowship. It was natural then for them to turn their thoughts toward families as they contemplated Charlie’s upcoming Sabbatical leave from Union College in 1994, where at that time he had taught Chemistry for 22 years. As part of a comprehensive program visiting elementary school classrooms across the country, they did demonstrations and worked with the children and teachers in individual classrooms during the days and at night, invited the students and parents back to school for a Family Science Night (FSN) program. The first FSN was held in Poland, Maine, where Charlie held the rapt attention of the crowd with demonstrations while Priscilla and the principal hurriedly set up 20 activities in the school gym following a double overtime at the school basketball game. When over 250 people showed up that night, the Scaifes knew that the program they developed together was going to be a huge success. The following night they held a FSN at a school with 24 children and were amazed when the families of 23 students showed up (the 24th child was sick!) Throughout their travels over a period of 9 years, primarily working around Charlie’s teaching schedule, the Scaifes estimate that they taught about 25,000 students, plus teachers and many administrators and school board members. Chares died in 2003, but Priscilla has continued to organize FSNs for both local and not-so-local schools.  It is very satisfying, she says because the FSN brings out so many families for a fun and educational evening. The dads, especially, feel very comfortable working with their children on science activities. One father in Maine asked at the end of a program “this has been so much more fun than watching a movie with my daughter in a dark theater – could you tell me where you are going to be next week”?

The assistance of Meg Howley in building this web site, is gratefully acknowledged.

Priscilla Scaife
Department of Chemistry
Union College
Schenectady, NY 12308

For questions about this website, please contact Priscilla Scaife.

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