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Partner Highlight: MOST, Syracuse, New York

July 26, 2011

Vrylena Olney

What do 17th-century Japanese literature and a science summer camp in Syracuse, NY have in common? Haiku!

The Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology (MOST) in Syracuse, New York has been working to incorporate nano content into their ongoing summer camp program. As part of that effort, they’re using the haikus from the Nano Bite newsletter to spark discussions about science content.

The camps are five days long, and each day includes nano content in the morning and a nano movie of some sort at lunchtime. Betty Jones from the Science Education department at MOST told me that she and the other educators have been interested in figuring out how much of the nano content the kids are retaining. To get a sense of that, they’ve had the campers keep journals and created the haiku activity.

The haiku activity involved about 20 minutes of discussion. To prepare, educators printed out big copies of some of the Nano Bite haikus to post near their cafeteria. On the last day of the camp, the campers and educators visited the Nano Haiku Fence and campers were invited to find one haiku that they could explain. They removed their haiku from the fence and brought it back to the classroom where either the camper or educator read the haiku aloud. The camper then explained what the haiku referred to and, if possible, an activity that they had done that related to the haiku. According to Betty, every camper was able to interpret their haiku correctly!

Here’s an example of a haiku and the camper’s explanation:

Raindrops roll and drop

from a hydrophobic leaf

leaving it clean


Bruno:  "I experimented with leaves. There was a leaf called ‘lamb’s ear.’ This leaf attracts water to it and when you dump it in the water, it gets soaked. There was another leaf (Nasturtium) that slid water off and it looked like a lilypad."

When I talked to Betty, MOST had just wrapped up their first week-long camp session (for 8 – 11 year olds). There are three more sessions scheduled for this summer, including one for 10 – 14 year olds that will have been completed by the time you read this. If you’re interested in learning more about their work, get in touch with Betty at [email protected].