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Science After School (SAS) Consumers Guide  

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Bubble Festival

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  Afterschool Expert   Science Expert  

Review Synopsis: by afterschool program expert Maryann Stimmer

An excellent resource for the afterschool setting, Bubble Festival is a set of fun, hands-on, minds-on activities for K-6 students. The guide offers complete instructions and information to coordinate and conduct a very special science event that will engage students while it educates them. The science is rich and the engagement total as students move from one learning station to the next, developing science skills and learning physics and chemistry as they play with bubbles.
Full Review:
Bubble Festival is another in the series of excellent GEMS Guides that offers quality science experiences to students and complete support for the educators facilitating the activities. Bubble Festival includes a set of fun, hands-on, minds-on activities for K-6 students. The guide offers complete instructions and information to coordinate and conduct a very special science event that will engage students while it educates them.

The introduction to the guide will convince any educator that a Bubble Festival is a must. By including a perspective written by an educator who led a Bubble Festival, the guide points out all of the benefits (and honestly recognizes some of the tricky issues) involved in conducting this fun learning experience with a group of students. One of the benefits of having a Bubble Festival is the opportunity for the educator to learn how to teach science. The guide encourages educators to think beyond content and to consider how science is taught. Educators learn to think through the activity from the perspective of the children who will participate—asking questions such as “How long should sessions be?”, “What can you expect from young children during a first session?”, “What should subsequent sessions look like?”, “How much time should children spend exploring?”, “How many different ways can science happen with children?”, and “How should the room be set up?” resulting in a more successful experience for all.

The guide helps the facilitator plan the event from beginning to end. Issues of space, volunteers, materials, and management are all addressed. Tips on organization, the recipe for bubble solution, and clean-up hints are included. Activity sections like “Tips for Managing the Station,” “ What to Do, What You Need for One Station,” “Getting Ready,” and “Going Further” provide a user-friendly support for activity facilitators for each station. A thoughtful and easy to read and understand section called “Behind the Bubble” explains the science in the bubble activities and is an excellent resource, especially for afterschool instructors who lack a science background or seek more information about how to explain the activities and/or the scientific concepts behind them.

In the eight core (and four extension) activities the emphasis is on “fun” as students learn about matter as they study soap films or structure as they look at the “skeletons” of bubble clusters. Surface tension, evaporation, and equilibrium all become relevant as the students experience the bubbles. The science is rich and the engagement total as students go from learning station to learning station developing science skills and learning physics and chemistry concepts as they play with bubble solution. Many suggestions are offered on processing the science content during and after the hands-on activities, complete with ideas for extensions that include literacy and math activities.

An excellent follow-up resource for older children (grades 5-9) is Bubble-ology, another GEMS guide written for teachers that can be used easily in the afterschool setting. Well written, and containing all of the information needed for students to explore bubbles to learn science and math, this guide links more complex science concepts (Bernoulli’s Law, volume of a sphere) to the everyday experience of blowing bubbles.