Source: Sherman Publications

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Students enjoy history, science in Flint

by CJ Carnacchio

October 12, 2011

Oxford Middle School sixth-grader Damien Helm helps demonstrate one of the three states of matter by having a green liquid poured into his hands by Laurie Bone, senior curator of programs at the Sloan Museum and Longway Planetarium in Flint. The sixth-graders took a field trip there last week. More photos on Page 14. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio.
Some days it's good to get out of the stuffy, old classroom and experience learning in an environment that's fun, fresh and unique.

That's exactly what Oxford Middle School sixth-graders did last week when they took an exciting field trip to the Sloan Museum and Longway Planetarium in Flint.

The trip certainly offered a diverse educational experience that blended area history with hands-on science.

Walking through the Sloan Museum, the students took a journey through the history of Flint, from the early age of Indians and French fur traders to the dramatic rise of the auto industry, which basically built the city and put it on the map.

Students learned about Flint's industrial role as part of the "arsenal of democracy" in World War II and what life was like during the 1950s through 1970s. They viewed a gallery filled with more than 600 artifacts and photographs including classic automobiles, bright neon signs, household furnishings, period clothing and commercial goods.

Along the way, students learned about important social movements and changes such as integration between black and white people and how the union fought for and secured the rights of auto workers through actions such as sit-down strikes.

At one point, the students got to experience what it was like to work on the auto assembly line with a hands-on station. If they didn't accomplish the simulated task quickly and correctly, they were fired.

Following the history lesson, the sixth-graders visited the "Robots" interactive exhibition, where they learned how robots are becoming more and more a part of humans' lives.

The kids had an absolute ball controlling robotic arms similar to those used in factories, building toy robots to accomplish simple tasks and visiting the "Hollywood Robots Hall of Fame," which included Robby the Robot (Forbidden Planet), C-3PO (Star Wars) and Gort (The Day the Earth Stood Still).

Physics and chemistry were also part of the trip as the students enjoyed some fun demonstrations involving the three states of matter solids, liquids and gases.

Student favorites included dipping broccoli in liquid nitrogen, then shattering it, and watching dry ice bubble in green water, creating a dense cloud of white fog.