Science Department Sponsors Sleepovers

Science Department Sponsors Sleepovers

Upper School Headmistress Kim Wargo and the Hockaday Development Office sponsor sleepovers for students in the new science building.

“Ready, set, go!” Science department head Marshall Bartlett, Ph.D., yelled as he dropped a whole watermelon from the balcony of the new science building. High-pitched shrieks echoed through Metzger Plaza as the watermelon soared through the air and exploded on the ground. Fifth graders dodged the watermelon, trying to avoid getting splattered by juice and exploded chunks of red fruit.

Ten minutes later, this same mob of excited fifth graders crowded around a Perot Museum volunteer to watch her carefully pipet drops of water onto kale and cabbage leaves. Although the fifth graders had done experiments and attended classes in the new science center before, the Oct. 3 science building sleepover hosted by Eugene McDermott Headmistress Kim Wargo and the Development Office allowed them to explore the building on a whole new level.

SLUMBER PARTY Kim Wargo, members of the Hockaday administration and Hockaday science teachers planned the Mad Science Sleepovers in the science building.  PHOTO PROVIDED BY HOLLY HOOK
SLUMBER PARTY Kim Wargo, members of the Hockaday administration and Hockaday science teachers planned the Mad Science Sleepovers in the science building.

The Mad Science Sleepovers with Wargo were sold in the Centennial’s Live Auction last year; second, fourth and fifth grade families purchased them for their respective grades. Above all, students looked forward to spending a night together with their friends and exploring all the new features of the building.

Both Holly Hook from the Development Office and Lower School science teacher Amy Banks were instrumental in planning the sleepovers. “I would guess that their favorite part was simply being at school together with their friends after hours,” Banks commented.

For this reason, all three sleepovers received very high rates of participation. One fourth grader who attended, Kate Stevenson, noticed that “almost all of [her] grade was at the sleepover.”

Staff members from the Perot Museum performed experiments with the girls in the Hockaday science building labs during both the second and fourth grade sleepovers. The evenings included a dinner from Goff’s Hamburgers, science experiments, a flashlight tour of the campus led by Wargo, a movie and a snack, a bedtime story read by Wargo and a sleepover in the lobby of the science center.

The main purpose of the sleepovers was to help students become familiar with the features of the building, to spend time with Wargo and to just have fun.

When asked whether or not the sleepovers had a purpose linked to Hockaday science classes, Banks commented, “There was really no classroom connection, except for the fact that our kids love hands-on science like the Perot presented because we do hands-on science in our classrooms.”

The new planetarium, which features an LED lighting system and unparalleled acoustics, was a favorite amongst the girls. Led by Bartlett, the fourth and fifth graders enjoyed gazing at the stars, pointing out constellations in the simulated night sky and watching a short documentary about the Apollo missions during their visit to the planetarium.

Fourth grader London Rhodus was a huge fan of the planetarium and said that “actually getting to go in [to the planetarium] for the first time was so exciting.”

Although the sleepovers went smoothly, the coordinators of the sleepovers did encounter a few challenges along the way.

Although the second and fourth grade girls slept in the IDEA Lab, this was not feasible for the 80 fifth graders who attended the sleepover. “It was a bit challenging to figure out the sleeping arrangements for the girls. The building is not really designed to accommodate 40-60 small bodies in any one of its spaces,” Bartlett said.

However, the coordinators were able to overcome the space constraints for the fifth graders by accommodating students into the main lobby of the building.

All in all, Banks believes that “the girls had a great time at the sleepovers,” mainly because of the combined efforts of Hockaday’s staff, teachers, administrators and Perot Museum partners.

The new science building has the ability to get even Hockaday’s youngest girls, like fourth grader Alexa Welch, interested in science.

Grinning broadly, Welch said, “I love the new science building so much! It makes science really fun.”

– Eshani Kishore