At the Katharine Drexel Library, kids wearing brightly colored safety goggles are given a sealed plastic bag filled with an unknown item. Prodding at the bag with their fingers, they determine the substance is firm with a little bit of squishiness to it.
They’re halfway through learning about ‘The Science of Me,’ the theme of this summer’s GSK Science in the Summer. They’ve already learned about the digestive system and tested some fake blood samples earlier that day, so when they peel open the bag and begin examining the sheep’s heart that was inside, a couple of kids bow out, but most stick around in fascination.
GSK Science in the Summer is offered in partnership with the Franklin Institute and offers free, STEM-based summer programming in libraries across Philadelphia and surrounding areas. The programs are offered free each summer to students entering second through sixth grades.
“The best part is teaching that science is fun and science is for everyone,” said Deborah Rimkunas, who has been teaching students as part of the program for six years.
“We want to show them you don’t have to be any particular age or income to be a scientist. People can do science every day,” she said.
Rimkunas said that students love learning, but report during the year that they can become stressed when they have to pass tests. The program provides learning without the fear of being tested.
“This is my third time coming here for science,” said Margaret, 9. “I come here a lot because this is the library I go to and everyone here is very nice.”
Before lunch, the kids took a break to learn about potential careers in the science field such as being a cardiologist or a neuroscientist. After lunch they learned about how the brain interprets the world and what role DNA plays in making who they are.
Most spots are full for the summer, though registration opens every year in May. For more information and registration head to www.fi.edu/scienceinthesummer. ••