Tuesday, November 13, 2001

From left, Parker School eighth-graders Larissa LeBlonde,
Maggie Shupe, Marcy Swisher and Lahela Langan recorded
the results recently of an experiment on the evaporation of
salt water. The equipment they were using is scheduled to
be replaced, thanks to the grants from the Atherton Family
Foundation and the G.N. Wilcox Foundation.

Grants fuel Parker
School science

The Big Isle academy wants a small
thrill park in its physics lab

By Rod Thompson

WAIMEA, Hawaii >> Big Island science teacher Rebecca Crawley wants her students to build an amusement park at private Parker School.

She will get her wish soon, in miniature, assisted by a $15,000 science development grant from the Atherton Family Foundation and a $4,000 grant from the G.N. Wilcox Foundation.

The grants are intended to renovate the seventh- through 12th-grade Waimea school's science laboratory, which had not been updated since the school opened in 1976.

Crawley teaches chemistry and physics and begins her explanation about the amusement park by saying, "I have a passion for physics."

"Amusement parks operate solely on physics," she said. Physics determines whether a roller-coaster car doing a loop spills its occupants, she said.

Another benefit of the grant money was the purchase of four laptop computers, Crawley said.

The computers came with "probe ware," which allows students to stick specialized probes into chemical solutions to obtain various readings.

The computer can immediately chart information for the students to show them if their experiment is going as expected.

Without the computers, students would have to leave the laboratory, analyze the data on paper and then return to the lab for more information. The computers allow the students to remain active in the laboratory, Crawley said.

Instead of students focusing questions on their teacher, she can now tell them to focus on the laboratory. "Go measure it," Crawley says.

Some of the money went for items that are less high-tech but equally important, such as updated, safe laboratory tables.

Other items include science workstations, microscopes, hot plates, balance scales and other equipment such as glassware.

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