It's cold out there, but the John McConnell Math & Science Center has just the thing to stimulate young minds and prevent "cabin fever" on these long, dreary winter afternoons.No school on Fridays, but too cold to play outside? Come to the Math & Science Center for Science Fridays. Don't want to hang out with "stinky" boys, but think you have what it takes to be a scientist or engineer? Check out "Girls Only: Exciting Experimenters."Here's what the Math & Science Center, located at 2660 Unaweep Ave., has planned for winter and spring: • S.T.E.M. Kids Club is a brand-new "drop-in" science club for third to fifth graders. Every Monday afternoon, beginning Feb. 11 through April 22, kids can stop by for 1-1/2 hours of science fun. Explore weather, fossils, Newton's Laws of Motion, chemical reactions and more; attend all of the sessions or buy a punch card and choose your favorite topics. • Robotics 101 on Tuesday afternoons beginning Feb. 12 is for middle-school students who want to learn to create and control their very own robot. Using low cost, reusable materials and cheap 3-D printing technology, students will learn the skills necessary to construct a walking robot called a hexapod. (They will also learn to solve complex problems with simple technology and sound logic, but that's our secret!)• For girls third through fifth grade wanting to practice their scientist skills, the center will be hosting "Girls Only: Exciting Experimenters." This Tuesday afternoon camp also beginning Feb. 12 is sponsored by the Mesa County Chapter of the American Association of University Women. AAUW's mission is to empower women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research. These aspiring scientists will have the opportunity to experiment with chemicals, plants, animals, and things too small for us to see.• And we haven't forgotten about young students who are being homeschooled or do not have school on Fridays. On Science Fridays, first through third grade students will grab goggles and lab coats, engage their curiosity, and dive into a new science adventure. This program will take place from 1:30-3 p.m. at the Math & Science Center.• Finally, don't forget to check www.MathandScienceCenter.org for more information on upcoming "no-school" day and Spring Break programs! Not only are our after-school, no-school day and vacation programs fun (and educational), they allow us to provide opportunities for college students, majoring in engineering, the sciences, or teacher education, to practice their new knowledge and skills and serve as role models for younger students. Our young campers LOVE learning from their college mentors, and our community benefits from having engaged and excited students who will become the next generation of scientists and engineers.Teresa Coons is executive director of the John McConnell Math & Science Center.
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