The Allegro School’s second annual science fair was a tremendous success. With the help of knowledgeable, enthusiastic Bayer employees, parents and staff, we made science make sense for students with autism.
At our school, the goal is to provide a quality education to people with autism, to maximize their potential and help them contribute more to their communities. Our curriculum connects academic subject matter with meaningful experiences, so the hands-on nature of this science fair was perfect for helping our students achieve their goals.
Bayer provided plenty of engaging and academic activities for the students. Challenging students with autism in different ways (for example, through sensory experiments — experiments that stimulate one or more of the five senses) helps to keep them focused.
For example, our younger students loved the experiments with Glo-Germ, a visual tool to help promote better hand washing techniques. We had them apply the Glo-Germ gel to their hands then hold them under UV light to show the coverage. They washed their hands with soap and water and checked their hands under the UV light again to show the areas that were not washed properly. The engaging experiment will hopefully improve awareness of hygiene and proper habits.
Our older students couldn’t get enough of the Alka Rockets. They used foam cones with a film canister placed inside as the rocket. Then they filled a quarter of the cannister with water and added half of an Alka Seltzer tablet before snapping on the lid. Once they placed the rocket on the ground, all they had to do was stand back, wait for it to launch and boom! It was an instant hit. The rockets were a flashy and fun way to familiarize students with Newton’s third law of motion — for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.
The fair was roughly three hours long and I’m proud to say that our students had only appropriate behaviors observed, and there were zero behaviors of concern during that time. We characterize a behavior as anything from a lack of connection with other people, to a repetitive motion with a random object, to sensitivity to certain noises. All of these can be challenging for parents, teachers and guardians and can create obstacles to learning. The fair was a huge success in that we were able to keep students engaged and excited. I saw students, who usually can’t sit for five minutes, not only complete an experiment but excel at it.
After the enthusiasm for science we’ve seen from teachers and students alike, we’ve decided to create a science lab called “Science Time with Steve” and make it a part of our curriculum at the Allegro School. Bayer has been integral in helping us come up with challenging experiments that push students’ abilities and show teachers what they can do. I say let the kids try. So what if they fail? We don’t learn unless we fail. That’s what science is all about.