Getting kids hooked on math, science

Paularino Elementary School kindergartner Cash Gorke looked eagerly at the marine life swimming around inside the touch tank in a Costa Mesa High School science classroom.

After getting a nod of approval from his mother, Cash plunged both arms into the tank, the sleeves of his black shirt quickly absorbing the water, and pulled up a bright orange sea star.

He proudly displayed his catch to other children standing near him, holding it up like he had found treasure among the sea creatures.

"They're so colorful," he exclaimed, dunking the sea star back underwater and running his fingers across the slippery exterior of a small shark swimming by.

"They have teeth, but they won't bite you," he said to his mother. "They're nice."

Students from Davis Magnet, Sonora, Killybrooke, Paularino and College Park elementary schools visited Costa Mesa High classrooms Thursday night for the first Delta Science Showcase Night.

The Delta program at the high school is made up of about 300 high-achieving math and science students in grades 7 through 10.

Cori Juncker, whose son is a seventh-grade Delta student, came up with the idea for the event to expose elementary-age students to Costa Mesa High's signature advanced math and science program and to get parents thinking about science education.

"I wanted to bring more parents to the school so they could get a hands-on feel for the type of science the kids are doing," she said. "There are a lot of fun things happening."

Eventually, Juncker hopes to turn the event into a fundraiser for the program. While parents sold pizza and other food during the showcase to raise money for Delta, Juncker said her only goal this year was to break even.

Aerian Gorke brought her son, Cash, to science night with the hope that the event would nourish his interest in science.

"Interactive subjects like science really stimulate a part of the brain that isn't normally stimulated in other subjects," she said.

Teachers assisted the younger students with the scientific-themed activities.

In one classroom students touched squid that had been prepared for dissection and identified the parts of the animal. In another they mixed dry ice with milk and vanilla to create homemade ice cream.

"We're making ice cream and I don't know how it works, but it's a bubbling a lot and it's really cool," said Joakin Tysor, 7, a second-grader at Paularino Elementary.

His brother, Jonathan Tysor, 9, who is in fourth grade at Paularino, was excited that science included making ice cream.

"It's fun that science happens when you put things together," he said.

Robert Ellis, a marine science instructor at Orange Coast College, assembled the touch tank for the showcase.

Introducing kids to science at a young age is what keeps them interested in the future, he said.

"Right now at this age, all the facts and science is great, but the enthusiasm is what hooks them," he said.

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