Pre-school students at the Guild for Exceptional Children are learning that science can be a whole lot of fun.
The Guild’s Carrie Mastronardi Early Childhood Education Program held its Science Fair on May 18 for children three to five years of age and young visitors rolled up their sleeves to take part eagerly in interactive exhibits.
The science fair took place in the cafeteria of the Mastronardi Program at 1273 57th Street in Borough Park, two miles from the Guild’s Bay Ridge headquarters at 260 68th Street.
There were 17 exhibits in all, one for each of the program’s classes. The topics included the Life Cycle of Butterflies, Planting Vegetables in an Urban Setting, Learning What Objects Sink and What Objects Float, the Concept of Momentum, How to Make Bubbles, Why Oil and Water Do Not Mix, and the Lives of Insects.
Throughout the day, teachers brought their classes into the cafeteria to enjoy the fair.
“Of course, when the children first came in, they all raced over to look at their own exhibits. But after that, they got around to the other exhibits. They were curious to see the projects from other classes,” said Jolene Gunther-Doherty, principal of the Mastronardi Program.
At one table, children were busy dunking various objects into a small basin of water to see which ones sank to the bottom and which ones floated up to the surface. A few feet away, a race track had been created to demonstrate the power of momentum. The students raced miniature cars up and down the track. A third class stepped over giant replicas of bugs on the floor as their teacher talked to them about insects.
After visiting the fair, the children filled out progress sheets to show their parents what they learned that day.
The fair was educational on many levels, according to Gunther-Doherty, who said the students learned to observe nature, work in teams, increase their vocabularies, and develop critical thinking skills. The fair also increased youngsters’ self-esteem, she said.
The teachers guided the children in the development of their projects.
Joe Riley, the Guild’s associate executive director for business services, and Patricia Romano, associate executive director for program services, attended the science fair and said they were impressed with the variety of the exhibits.
The Mastronardi Program educates special needs children. The Guild, which was founded in 1958, provides education, housing, job training and other services for clients ranging from young children to senior citizens.
The Mastronardi Program has been housed at its 57th Street location for 25 years. “It was originally in our main building in Bay Ridge. But it grew so much over the years that we needed a bigger space,” Riley said.
The program is named in memory of Carrie Mastronardi, a founder of the Guild.
The Guild for Exceptional Children is marking its 60th anniversary this year.