Every Monday and Thursday from 3:30 to 5 p.m., kindergarten through fifth-grade students are welcome to attend Sternberg Museum of Natural History’s after-school program.
The program has been ongoing for years, and provides a variety of science-themed after-school activities for children of that particular age range who enjoy science, according to David Levering, director of education at the museum.
“It’s not necessarily just for the kids who are super gung ho about dinosaurs, or that just really love snakes, or things like that,” he said. “It’s pretty general interest — earth and life science.”
The focus, Levering said, is on providing fun, educational activities in a laid-back environment.
“Obviously, with it being an education program, we want to make sure they learn, but we tend to default to having fun with the science before academic rigor,” he said.
Several students gathered at the museum Thursday to participate in activities themed around the education of tropical coral reefs.
“I like to learn and I like to spend time with the teacher and all my friends that come here,” said Kaliyah Bannister, 8, Hays. “It’s so cool because we’re learning about it, and then the next day at school we can tell our teacher what we learned.”
The children watched an educational video while enjoying cupcakes before participating in a verbal discussion about coral reefs. Afterward, they crafted props for a play themed around the Disney movie, “Finding Nemo.”
Instructing the activities was Fort Hays State University student Chantelle Davis, who also is the president of the Sternberg Geosciences Club at FHSU.
Davis said she first began instructing the after-school program last fall.
“It started out very different than the way it is now; it’s definitely grown,” she said.
According to Davis, high levels of science have been discussed during the program, especially for the children who have attended regularly for a while.
A few subject matters she and the children have focused on include geology, water cycles, the atmosphere, the ozone layer, climate change and even evolution.
Brothers Carter, 11, and Parker, 9, Muelhleisen, Hays, said they enjoy attending the program on a regular basis, and mostly enjoy learning about dinosaurs.
“Once we were trying to find fossils, and I found one that looked like a shell,” Parker said. “I like learning about that stuff.”
Davis said instructing the after-school program is one of the highlights of her week, and she feels the children benefit greatly from the activities.
“Science is a huge thing and it covers so many broad topics,” she said. “I think the most important thing is just making sure kids grow in science.”
For additional information on Sternberg Museum’s after-school programs, visit www.sternberg.fhsu.com.