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Sharon students soak up science
Parent volunteers help run new lab
Lab WEB 1
Sharon Elementary teacher Cindy Slappy holds Blaze, a bearded lizard that’s the unofficial mascot of the school’s new science lab. - photo by Crystal Ledford

Second-graders streamed into the lab Friday, excited to see the fish in the aquarium and the unofficial mascot, a bearded lizard recently dubbed Blaze.

They settled on the floor while Sharon Elementary parent volunteers Kristy White and Stacey Bauer asked questions about the different states of matter.

The children eagerly described the differences between liquids, solids and gases.

They then moved to tables where they mixed to liquids together — one green, one clear. As they stirred the combination with a wooden tongue depressor, it transformed into a green, gooey blob.

“Now it’s a solid,” many of the children exclaimed.

The “slime experiment” was part of the school’s new science lab, which administrator Jenny Spartz said was the idea of several parents.

The school had two art rooms, she said, so it was decided one would be converted into a lab.

Cindy Slappy, one of three teachers who lead the lab, said they get a lot of help from parent volunteers.

The parents do everything from organizing shelves and feeding animals to learning and leading schoolwide lab activities.

“This year, we have five of those planned,” Slappy said. “They are lessons that every grade can come in and learn.”

The slime lesson was one of those. The next one will be on bio-illumination.

“We’ll talk about different animals in the wild that can illuminate, and we’ll see how glow sticks work,” Slappy said.

The lab also offers teachers a space for their own experiments and projects.

“They can sign up for the room and not have to worry about using their classroom for these activities,” Spartz said.

In addition to the aquarium and lizard, the lab features several small animals, including a box turtle and several hissing cockroaches, hermit crabs and frogs.

There are also models of a volcano and human skeleton, as well as colorful murals.

Slappy said the lab will join with neighboring Lambert High later this school year.

Advanced Placement science students will have a chance to work with their younger peers at Sharon.

An official grand opening of the lab is also planned later this month.