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Atwater students become ‘wizards’ during UC Berkeley science program

Iranay Franklin, a student at Shaffer Elementary School, and her mother, Trecel, work at a transformer station at the Wizards Festival on Friday at Atwater Community Center.
Iranay Franklin, a student at Shaffer Elementary School, and her mother, Trecel, work at a transformer station at the Wizards Festival on Friday at Atwater Community Center. Atwater Elementary School District

Students in Atwater Elementary School District’s Gifted and Talented Education program experimented with electricity and physics last week during a Wizards Festival hosted by University of California, Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science.

Students watched plasma and electricity travel through the air by using a Jacob’s ladder and Tesla coil. Some students were even brave enough to hold florescent bulbs up to the activated plasma beam and watched them light up like “Star Wars” lightsabers.

The lab was put on at the Atwater Community Center by Randal Wung from the Lawrence Hall of Science. The Lawrence Hall of Science offers many interactive programs, exhibits, a planetarium, ingenuity lab, animal discovery room and 3-D theater. Schools can hire staff from the hall for on-site programs, such as the Wizards Festival.

“I’m so glad we were able to do this,” said Ana Boyenga, AESD’s assistant superintendent for educational services, in a statement. “The students love these hands-on activities.”

Parent volunteers and volunteers with GATE worked with the Lawrence Hall of Science to facilitate the activities and experiments.

The GATE program allows students who are proficient and above on grade level standards to attend various extracurricular activities designed to deepen their knowledge of the curriculum. Many of these activities center around STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and math – subjects.

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