Free Hands-on Science Club For Middle School Students Starts Tuesday in
OAKHURST – Bass Lake Unified School District students in grades 6-8 once again have the chance to attend Yosemite Science Club, a free after-school project-based program at Oak Creek Intermediate (OCI) School, beginning Tuesday, Feb. 5 from 3 – 4:40 p.m., in the OCI science lab.
The 12-week program is in its third year, sponsored by the Bass Lake Education Foundation (BLEF), an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding educational opportunities for kids in the mountain area. The nonprofit is run by parent volunteers, while Science Club is led for the second year by OCI teacher, Tim McGrew.
Students in grades 6-8 or the equivalent are all welcome at Science Club, which engages members in hands-on scientific experiments and provides an alternative to classroom work. Students from different schools, grades and groups can get together and have fun, while learning to love physics, chemistry, aeronautics, natural sciences and whatever else is on the club agenda any given day.
Pizza is frequently served and it’s not uncommon to hear music coming out of the lab.
Parent Kriszti Mendonca is the founder of BLEF, and asks that parents register students online for the science program, which will culminate in a district-wide science fair. While the club is free, donations are accepted to help defray costs of supplies and snacks ($3 per session or a total of $36 is appreciated, not required), according to Mendonca.
“We are very happy to be back for our third season, with Mr. McGrew as our instructor for the second year in a row,” Mendonca reports. “We have had an incredibly successful two years already, with each session very well attended.”
Last year, about 45 students were registered in Science Club, with an average of 25 kids attending each week for 90 minutes of science. The first Science Club meeting took place in January of 2011, sprouting from a grassroots effort.
“Science at that time was all but missing from the middle school curriculum when my daughter enrolled four years ago,” says Mendonca. “Answering the questions at the end of the chapter week after week is not going to get any kid excited about science.”
Instead, Mendonca assembled an interested group of parents and community organizers who were willing and able to help put science back on the kids’ table in a very fun, active way.
Thanks to the cooperation of OCI Principal Nicole White and District Superintendant Glenn Reid, Science Club came to fruition and has served nearly 100 kids so far, say organizers, who anticipate that some students will return to conduct further research this year, and many new students will register.
“Kids can expect a fun, relaxed environment in which to learn about science by doing hands-on activities,” says Mendonca, whose foundation has also sponsored arts and computer programming workshops.
“The best part, for me, is when a middle schooler thinks something ‘science-y’ is really cool.”
Space is limited. Permission and prompt transportation to and from the club are required.
Donations and signups can be made through the organization’s website www.basslakeedfund.org