March 6, 2019
Science experiments weren’t the only thing exploding in Asbury University’s Hamman-Ray Science Center on Saturday. Excited shrieks and belly laughs abounded too as Asbury University hosted over 200 kindergarten through eighth grade students for Kids’ College, an annual science event.
Hosted by Asbury’s chapter of Sigma Zeta, a national math and science honors society, Kids’ College brought science to life for elementary and middle school students as they played scientist for a day, participating in hands-on chemistry experiments, watching physics demonstrations and getting up-close views of plants and animals in the biology lab.
The event is incredibly popular within the local Jessamine County community with spots typically filling up within 24 hours of registration opening.
“Sharing the gift of science with the next generation means teaching them more about God’s creation,” said Sarah Balkcom ‘20, a student leader at this year’s Kids’ College. “We focused on botany in the Biology Department this year and I think my favorite part was watching the kids light up when they learned something new. When we were learning about all the different parts of the flower, one of the fourth-grade girls said, ‘Wow, God is so cool.’ I think that’s what Kids’ College is all about, providing an atmosphere where kids can learn about His creation and how it all works together.”
The one-day event is led by student volunteers from Asbury’s Science & Health Department and is especially loved by the local homeschool community, as it provides a space for children interested in science to learn even more about the subject.
Professor Ann Witherington, who serves as the Sigma Zeta advisor, notes that due to the high demand and growth in STEM careers, it’s important to get young people excited about math and science now. She’s also thankful for all of the Asbury students who help put on the event each year.
“Parents are overwhelmingly grateful that we provide this opportunity for their homeschooled children,” Witherington said. “Thank-yous are heard all day!”
The event isn’t just an exciting opportunity for local elementary and middle school students though, as Kids’ College allows Asbury science majors the chance to implement and teach the material they’ve been learning in their own classes to the next generation of science enthusiasts. This year, 35 Asbury students volunteered at the event.
For Sigma Zeta President Alexis Ruffing ’20, joy abounded in getting to teach the kids about the ways in which God speaks through His creation.
“We get the opportunity to start a conversation about how the God who made all of the little molecules that make us who we are, is the same God who lives in us and with us,” Ruffing said. “The God that made the trees that tower outside, and the birds that live in them, is the same God that made us in His image.”
Angie Flores ’19 has enjoyed volunteering at Kids’ College during each of her four years at Asbury.
“The reason why I look forward to volunteering is to see the children’s smiles and enthusiasm,” Flores said. “This year, I volunteered in the kindergarten room. The fact that they have huge smiles on their faces from the moment that they walk into the room reminds me that science is absolutely something that I want to keep learning about. [I loved] how they kept asking questions and had a genuine desire to learn.”