Tech Toys to Make Science Fun



Editor’s NoteThis is the second in a three-part series on the Suncoast Science Center, which hosts its first open house this weekend. 

Colored light, just like paint, derives from the mixing of a few basic colors—although a slightly different set with red, blue and green making the palette. To envision the mixing of beams of light, though, challenges elementary school students’ basic sensibilities. And that is where Jennifer Holt comes in. Armed with a literal library of specialized scientific equipment, the education specialist for the new Suncoast Science Center manages shelves of nerdy toys. One of those, a light box with an optical kit, allows Holt in a demonstration to bend beams of red and green light together, producing glowing yellow rays to cast upon a white surface. “it’s a great kit for kids,” she boasts.

The tool is one of many Holt has out for display at the center’s newly operational facility on Beneva Road. She pulls out a tuning fork set to show how sound waves ripple in a beaker of water, then a Dino-Lite microscope that projects magnified images of fingerprints and salt grains onto a 19-inch computer screen. All of the items are available to teachers in the Sarasota County School District through the Science Lending Library, a creation of the Faulhaber Family Foundation. The resource helps teachers make lessons engaging to students who may be bored reading about sound and light waves only through chapters and diagrams in textbooks. “When you have fun,” said Ping Faulhaber, Suncoast Science Center executive director, “you want to learn.” 

The center has already brought groups of teachers into the new building, located next to the Florida House, to show off the available technological tools, and Faulhaber wants soon to create web connectivity with teacher’s curriculums that will provide hyperlinks from lesson plans to actual goods within the Lending Library inventory. The center continues to build its supply, and already has back rooms with boxes of cross-section models of the human respiratory system alongside beach balls that look like the planet Jupiter.

Much of the library’s capacity will be on display at the Open House event planned at the Suncoast Science Center facility this Saturday.

Pictured: Jennifer Holt demonstrates how to use a light box with optical kit.

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