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YLD Brings the Franklin Institute to Underprivileged Students

Shortly after the highly successful Arden Bus Trip in June, the Young Lawyers Division sat in a meeting trying to brainstorm more ways to give back to its community. One of the biggest issues in our local economy is the wide-spread budget cuts occuring in every school district in Atlantic County (and beyond). As a result of these budget cuts, students have suffered double, as they have lost great teachers who had to be let go and they have lost the opportunity to engage in cultural and educational activities outside of the classroom, which the Young Lawyers Division feels is a necessary part of learning for all students.

Knowing that field trips have been cut out of many schools' curriculums completely, the Young Lawyers Division attempted to strike a deal with Philadelphia museums in the hopes that they could take a couple buses filled with students on an educational trip of a lifetime. Although many museums were willing to work with us, the Boards of Education were not so willing. A single school district bus would cost upwards of $500, in some cases over $700. Since a school bus can only accomdate 40 students and their chaperones, the logistics of busing students to a crowded museum didn't seem to make sense.

Thus, after many discussions with many museums, the Young Lawyers Division finally found the solution - we could bring the Franklin Institute to the students. The Franklin Institute Traveling Scientists travel the world (not just the United States) performing large-scale interactive science exhibits with students of all ages.

Today, the Franklin Institute Traveling Scientists visted two inner city schools in Atlantic County - New York Avenue School and Our Lady Star of the Sea Regional School, both in Atlantic City - and performed an impressive total of four shows focusing on Weather and the science behind a thunderstorm.

At New York Avenue School, the scientists performed two morning shows for hundreds of students ranging in grade-level from first to fourth grade. At Our Lady Star of the Sea, the scientists performed two afternoon shows for students in kindergarten through fifth grade!

During each show, the students learned about the three main ingredients of a storm - energy, water (in various forms), and moving air (aka, wind). The students also learned that hot air rises and cold air falls (known as convection), because hot air is less dense than cold air due to the particals expanding when heated and shrinking when cooled. The scientists demonstrated this with the use of a mylar balloon that students helped fill with hot air. The students counted down from 5 and then released the balloon to watch it float to the ceiling (hot air rises!) and then fall back down to the ground (cold air falls) - a definite crowd favorite.

The students also learned about different water forms, such as evaporation and condensation, and discovered what makes a storm cloud, also known as a cumulonimbus cloud, a word the students loved to shout. For this part of the show, students had the truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to touch a cloud that the scientists made using boiling hot water and liquid nitrogen (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!) This was, by far, the most popular portion of the show in each and every school and grade level, as students raced to the stage for a touch of the cloud.

Additionally, the students learned about thunder and lightning. Thunder is the sound that lightning makes, and it is the result of a chemical reaction between two compouds . While we can't remember the technical terms of the chemical compouds (hey, we're only lawyers!), we know that the scientists created the sound of thunder by striking two balls together - one covered in rust and one covered in aluminum foil. Lightning is a discharge of electricicity that comes from the electrical charges in storm clouds. With the use of very impressive tesla machines, handmade by each scientist, students got to see lightning strike indoors!

Finally, students were taught the danger of hurricane and tornado force winds when the scientists pulled out their "pencil cannon" - a cannon that shoots a pencil at a piece of wood at over 100 miles per hour. The cannon demonstrated the immense power of a storm and the importance of staying inside in a safe shelter, because while you may see large objects coming your way (like a car), you will never see the small objects before they strike and cause damage (like rocks, glass, and debris).

The students learned a plethora of other fancy terms and concepts concerning the thermodynamics of a storm, air pressure, heating and cooling, and different weather fronts, as well as safety tips on how to stay safe and calm during a storm. The most important message from the scientists was that if you can understand what makes a storm, you can learn to respect it without being afraid of it.

The Young Lawyers Division would like to thank the Franklin Institutes scientists for traveling to Atlantic County to perform a beyond entertaining and educational science show for the students at New York Avenue School and Our Lady Star of the Sea Regional School. These students may never have the oppotunity to experience firsthand the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, and would never have touched a storm cloud, without you!


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