Third-graders watched closely while Notre Dame Catholic School science teacher Catherine Terman carefully put their beakers on balance beams in the school's science lab to illustrate the difference between density and mass.
In previous years, the science lab was used by fifth- through eighth-graders. But new to the school, Terman decided to open it to the younger students.
"She's given up all her prep time to do this," said third-grade teacher Mary Franklin, "Just so they'll experience the lab."
Terman started bringing the younger students — first- through fourth-graders — into the science lab in December once a week. The older students have time in the facility every day.
Terman said she hopes the added exposure to science will encourage the children to appreciate the subject and be better prepared for more intense work in their later years of school.
The children are being introduced to balance beams, beakers, test tubes and magnets, to name a few pieces of equipment.
"We've used a lot of stuff already," Terman said. "I think it's going to work very well."
Third-grader Scott Stalter, 9, likes the lab.
"It's a good thing, because they can learn more experiments and learn more science in the lab," he said.
He likes the big black lab tables.
Scott's classmate, Theodore "Teddy" Riser, 9, said the lab has more equipment and space to store it.
Both boys have favorite lab experiments they have done so far. Scott liked the time they took water and soil out into the sun to find out which would heat faster. The soil did.
Teddy's was the one with a water bottle and gum.
"We pretended the gum was the ozone layer and the water was heated and we watched as the gum lost its stickiness and got holes in it," he said.
Both agreed they like science more now that they're spending time in the science lab, and they said they're looking forward to doing science fair projects in middle school.
And that's what Terman was hoping.
"We're trying to inspire kids to love to learn science," she said.