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SSC-Natick Press Release

U.S. Army Soldier Systems Center-Natick
Public Affairs Office
Kansas Street
Natick, MA 01760-5012

Contact: Chief, Public Affairs Office
(508) 233-5340

Date: March 28, 2003
No: 03-10

Employees help bring science to kids

NATICK, Mass. --Bouncy blubber and gak will be among the attractions at Holliston's Miller-Placentino Elementary School for the ScienceFest scheduled for April 5 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

The one-day science festival is a cornucopia of hands-on experimentation and learning for children in preschool through middle school. Experiments will be simultaneously ongoing in fields such as chemistry, physics, geology and biology at locations spread throughout the building.

At noon, everyone is invited to gather outside at the school's playground for a rocket launch from a rocket hobbyist.

"Kids will make their parents stay home that weekend so they can go, even though they do many of the same things each year," said Heidi Schreuder-Gibson, a research chemist with the Materials Science Team and ScienceFest chairman.

Schreuder-Gibson along with her husband, Phil Gibson, a materials research engineer with the Materials Science Team, and Ray Valvano, with the Combat Feeding Directorate, are three Soldier Systems Center (SSC) employees participating this year.

In her fourth year of leading the event, Schreuder-Gibson was initially drawn by the quality of the event.

"We had kids attending that school and said 'wow' after attending our first ScienceFest. It's just interactive science. It's bringing the science museum to the kids and gives them more than they can do at a museum," she said.

It inspired the Gibsons to create a Fun With Science event for SSC’s Organization Day. At the table they assist children with many of the same demonstrations.

The free festival takes as many as 100 volunteers to become a reality, with up to 40 volunteers, comprising mostly parents and some high school students, running the stations during the day. She said last year reached "a saturation point" with 400-500 children in attendance by afternoon. Sponsorship from area businesses and non-profit organizations helps fund the free event.

"It's fun to see those young minds doing something other than watching cartoons on a Saturday," Valvano said, a food technologist with the Food Engineering Services Team, who volunteered for the first time at the event last year. "The children are very enthusiastic."

At the chemistry station, children will be able to experiment with solidified polymers with the names of "bouncy blubber" and "gak", as well as slime, tornado in a jar and invisible ink. Recipes for these substances are posted on the Internet at

Children can witness a "bubble wall," check their heart rate and blood pressure in the health sciences section and make paper planes take-off in ways they haven't done before.

"The kids are inventing as they go. They're exploring and asking new questions, 'What if I did this or changed that?' They try to take it to the next level. That's what's interesting," Schreuder-Gibson said, who volunteers at the chemistry station.

Two lieutenants from Hanscom Air Force Base will also be on hand to demonstrate infrared imaging, but most of the volunteers are either parents who are scientists or have a strong interest in science, according to Schreuder-Gibson.

For more information about SSC, please visit our website at

This page last updated on 28 February 2003.