Students Revel in the Science of Having Fun

Nearly 600 students from Simi Valley's 19 public elementary schools blew bubbles, petted tarantulas and dissected owl pellets in the name of math and science Thursday.

For the 11th consecutive year, budding scientists got to show off their pet turtles, launch cardboard rockets and measure their body size in the multipurpose room at Royal High School.

"We want to show kids that they can be excited about science and math, and have fun doing it," said Royal High physics teacher Keith Barker, who organized the event with his wife, Kay, a teacher at Simi Valley Elementary School.

It was clear looking at the pumped-up students that they were having a good time.

Stephen Hampton, 11, from Atherwood Elementary School, couldn't stop talking about what he had done: counted the number of beans in a jar, learned about the number of fish in lakes and discovered facts about the harmful effects of smoking.

"I love getting to try out new things," he said. "This is a great experience to try something you haven't tried before."

Dissecting hairballs from an owl was a unique experience for a group of Madera Elementary School students, who used tweezers to pull them apart.

"We learn what they eat . . . like grubs," Desirae Webb, 10, said as she displayed a tiny bone she thought was part of the owl's rib cage.

There are no winners in the event because the competitive aspect was taken out several years ago, teachers said.

The only semblance of first or second place comes at the end of the day when teams launch a cardboard rocket from a bungee cord. The missile that is projected the farthest gets recognition and an "achievement stamp."

The students seem to like it this way.

"This teaches you about sportsmanship," said Jeff Roman, 11, from Atherwood. "Like if another team does better, you can congratulate them."

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