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Spark Kits in Haiti!

Spark is Exploding Bacon’s initiative to send science kits filled with basic supplies to locations around the world and inspire children everywhere to make differences in their own communities.

While the kit may seem like an unsuspecting box of paper clips, rubber bands, strings, a prism, pulleys and more, using the accompanying experiment guide children can quickly turn those materials into scientific adventures!

This October, our Spark kits made their debut in Haiti when one of our mentors lead a mission trip to Haiti.

Haitian Christian Mission began 40 years ago on the porch of Betty and Etienne Prophete’s home in Port au Prince. It has since grown to serve 10,250 students in 53 schools around the country of Haiti. Their students rank 2nd in the nation in their accreditation exams. The campus in Fonds Parisien includes a K-12 school, a church, a translation school for adults, a clinic and a nationally recognized OB/GYN hospital, a woodworking shop, a sewing workshop, a new youth center, and a soon-to-open peanut butter factory.

One of the most effective of HCM’s outreaches is their Play It Forward program. PIF began in 2011 with a soccer team which holds students accountable to good grades, good character attributes including sportsmanship, and church attendance. PIF has since added a similar basketball program. Other outreaches are an associated orphanage and a preschool for indigent children.

Noah Halfon, a student member, and his family began their involvement with HCM in June of 2010 on a construction mission.  The family has participated food distributions, book distributions in native Creole, a teacher workshop, water purification systems, and vacation Bible schools. Each trip has been unique in its purpose and experience.

This year, Noah’s mother Shanna Halfon was excited to bring the science kits created and sponsored by Exploding Bacon. These kits demonstrate simple scientific concepts such as magnetism, gravity, light, and simple machines. “The teachers were incredibly grateful to have hands-on material to help students relate to textbook learning and to promote interest in the study of science and technology.” Mrs Halfon shared.  She demonstrated the kits in three villages: Nan Plaisir, Fonds Parisien, and Lak Azul (the Lake Village).

The Lake Village is a remote settlement hemmed in by mountains, the lake, and the Dominican Republic border and is only accessible by rowboat. Their school, as are most in Haiti, is funded solely through student sponsorships. We sponsor a 12 year old girl named Evena and I have the joy of seeing her every year. Classes only go through 5th grade due to lack of funding. This village has a distinct water problem in that there are no wells and the lake is brackish; all clean water must be trucked in from the Dominican Republic at great expense to the villagers.

“Explaining robotics, and more so Exploding Bacon, to students who cannot relate even to a Frisbee was challenging. I attempted to describe, through an interpreter, in the most simple terms what FIRST is. Students and their teachers participated in demonstrations and I worked to relate what they were learning to their every day life. Simple machines became a lesson in how to make work on a mountainside easier; the study of light and colors taught that lighter colors help keep a person (or house) cooler. Students’ favorite items were the prism and the pulley.”  Mrs. Halfon explained.

“The thought I could not escape during the entire trip was that we, Exploding Bacon, and FIRST can do more. These children are eager to learn, they are innovative, and they are problem-solvers. My challenge to our students at home is to find a way to work with these Haitian students whether remotely or in person, whether it is more kits in more villages, or whether it is planting a FIRST team in Haiti. Our students may well find themselves changed as they change the world.”

We learned a lot from Mrs. Halfon’s experience.  Having someone from the team work the the materials and instructions with the kids, gave us insight into how it was effective and what we needed to modify.

Check out more on Exploding Bacon in the Fall Newsletter.

Spark Experiments Are Here!

Last Monday the students from all Exploding Bacon teams worked hard to come up with experiment ideas that could go in the kits. Together they generated almost 50 fantastic ideas as they prototyped with common place objects such as paperclips and straws. Through out the week we ranked each experiment on its potential cost, wow factor, size, and reusability, eventually getting down to 9 unique sets of materials that can make even more imagination sparking experiments!

 

We are proud to announce to contents of our first prototype kit, containing 9 sets of 100% reusable materials so that recipients can inspire students for years to come!

 

Materials and Experiments included:

Simple Machines

Explore the basic tools that make everything we have work

Color Exploration

Explore the world of light by splitting light into all of its colors with a prism

Heat Absorption

Use what you learned about light to discover why certain colors get hotter than others

Magnetism

Use magnets to complete multiple experiments exploring the world of magnetic fields

Cartesian Diver

Discover how things float with a pipet and water bottle as you change the pressure inside to make it sink or swim

Ball Drop

Recreate the famous experiment done from Italy to the moon, drop different size and weight objects to explore gravity

Double Bounce

Launch balls into the air higher than they could bounce on their own using concepts of energy and momentum

Construction Kit

Use our custom reusable structures kit to build various buildings to discover what makes structures strong

Scale

Discover the differences in density, mass, and volume, by making a scale and weighing objects against each other

 

These experiments, along with instructions for many more, will be available in our phase one kits starting in October!

 

Spark Launch

We’ve officially launched! The students and mentors of Exploding Bacon are excited to bring you our latest and most ambitious initiative yet, Spark.
Spark is a global STEM initiative designed to spark the imaginations of children around the world by giving them the opportunity to explore the wonders of science.
Last night the students of 4-H Exploding Bacon Robotics Club worked hard to come up with experiments using limited resources that we could easily ship to other countries, some great ideas were generated and now we’re on to the finalization stage to figure out exactly what experiments will be sent in the kits!
We are also excited to announce that one of our parents and mentors will be traveling to six different schools in Haiti this October, and she will be taking our first kits with her! As she visits the schools she will help run the experiments and inspire the children of Haiti with a love of science and technology, we couldn’t be more excited for her trip!
As we continue developing our kits and locations we will make sure to keep you informed of our progress. We’re looking forward to what the future has to hold for Spark, and we can’t wait to work for that future.
Make sure to follow us on twitter and like us on Facebook to keep up with all we do!
-The Spark Team