S.E.E.D. enrichment event attracts record numbers

  • Thursday, October 17, 2013

STAFF PHOTO BY ROB NOVIT Kaycee Poppy gives these youngsters a chance to visit with a small alligator from the Savannah River Ecology Lab during the S.E.E.D. program. From the left are Carmen Dicks, Anne Smith and Irelyn Smith.


In the midst of dozens of exhibits and activities at the annual Science Education Enrichment Day on Saturday, Joe Brown, 6, and his dad, Jonathan, worked on mathematical puzzles – those made of wood mostly and don’t need electricity.

“He’s enraptured, and it’s great to see him exposed to science today,” Brown said. “I had to get him to put down his Nintendo.”

The event, more commonly known as S.E.E.D., has been a staple of the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center and the USC Aiken campus for 28 years. It keeps growing and growing, attracting a record 4,102 people, said Ruth Patrick special programs coordinator, John Hutchens.

S.E.E.D., a kid-friendly event, focuses on technology, engineering and science with a wide array of educational and just plain fun things to do. Savannah River Nuclear Solutions offered one of four activities – “When Soil Gets Dirty … Edible Earth.” Crushed ice, clear soda and ice cream were used to represent the soil, with cocoa serving as contanimination like oil. The soda filtered down into the crushed ice to show how water can be clean through cleaned soil.

Foster McLane, a former North Augusta High School student, is currently a senior at the Governor’s School for Science and Math in Hartsville. He and several classmates participated in S.E.E.D with a variety of electronic activities that include an “ancient” Pac-Man computer game.

Governor’s School juniors approached the school’s outreach program last year, said its manager, Randy LeCross.

“It’s research-based, and our students said they would like to have STEM workshops for middle school students,” LeCross said. “This is one of our first events today.”

Halle Harms, 4, had no qualms about sticking her hand into a huge mouth with some incredibly ugly teeth. She might not have understood its purpose, but she’ll certainly remember it.

Alphia Dunbar of the Aiken Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Services offers workshops related to the dangers of tobacco and alcohol use – including the damage tobacco can cause to teeth and gums.

While its use is declining in numbers, “about 440,000 people died from disease associated with tobacco,” said Dunbar. “Companies are targeting young people because they’re losing a lot of money. They figure if they start earlier in marketing to younger kids, they will get them hooked.”

Other activities included Kimberly-Clark Corporation’s paper-making experience, the South Carolina Aquarium’s spectacular reptiles, Allnex USA’s “Get Slimed” and Palmetto Pride’s “Litter Trashes Everyone” puppet program.

Senior writer Rob Novit is the education reporter for the Aiken Standard.

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