The Science of Kindness

February 26, 2018

Brooklynn Gross, 21, is a student at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She hopes to become a high school English teacher so she can share her passion for reading and writing with teens in her community.

Kindness isn’t something you can look at under a microscope. It’s not something you find when you dissect a frog or explode a baking-soda volcano. However, some Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) members in Harrisburg, South Dakota, know that science and kindness go hand-in-hand.

HOSA is a national organization that allows students to explore careers in the healthcare field while developing leadership skills. Harrisburg HOSA, the largest chapter in South Dakota, is ninety members strong. Throughout the year, members complete projects that positively impact the community. For example, in January, HOSA members sold Cold Stone ice cream at school to raise money for the National Alliance of Mental Illness, a mental-health awareness organization.

Every few months, Harrisburg HOSA students host Science Saturday, a day where students in grades three through five can visit the high school to learn about science. During the event, the elementary schoolers travel to different classrooms, each one featuring a unique science activity. These activities range from making slime to experimenting with dry ice, and each activity helps students understand a different science concept.

To prepare for a Science Saturday, HOSA students work in teams to design hands-on activities for the elementary students. Each Science Saturday has a different theme and February’s theme was, “The Science of Love” in honor of Valentine’s Day. This month, the activities included dissecting sheep hearts, and mixing baking soda and vinegar to explode heart-shaped volcanoes. Students also made homemade lava lamps, fizzing play dough, and balloon rockets.

Lauren Schnetter, Harrisburg HOSA treasurer and high school senior, knows that Science Saturdays have a positive impact on the community. She enjoys interacting with the younger children and teaching them about science. Oftentimes, Lauren says, the kids’ favorite activities are simple experiments that they can recreate at home.

One Saturday, Lauren helped the students make ice cream from scratch, and she said they really enjoyed the activity. Her favorite experiment that day was using carbon dioxide gas from dry ice to fill up bubbles.

Lauren says her favorite part of Science Saturdays is “seeing kids learn new things and having fun,” and additionally, helping kids “spark their interest in science.” Lauren believes that the purpose of Science Saturdays is to bring HOSA out into the public and give back to the community.

All students in grades three through five are welcome to participate in Science Saturdays and Lauren estimates that about fifty kids attend each event. This school year, HOSA has experienced an increase in the number of children who attend each event and in the number of children coming from other school districts. Lauren says that most of the kids are interested in science and many of them want to pursue a career in the healthcare field when they grow up. She believes Science Saturdays are a learning experience for the HOSA members, too.

“I learned that I like teaching a lot and I like working with kids,” Lauren said.

By sharing their passion for science with younger children, Harrisburg HOSA students gain leadership skills and spread kindness to the young scientists in the community.