Halifax County Middle School Science Centers

Where Are We Now in Planning?

As of right now, we have decided upon the rooms and are planning to purchase the shelving before we leave on Spring Break. The rooms will be located in the science tower. The reasons for this are many, which include the following:

  • Access to water: large sinks
  • Access to shelving
  • Access to storage
  • Visible as one of the many features of our school
  • Ability to be hooked up to RODI systems and auto top-offs

In preparation for this move, Mr. Jennings has been contacted. A structural engineer, which has visited the school, looked at the supporting beams and has approved our plans. Our proposed aquariums will not exceed 500 gallons.

How Will The Money Be Divided?

At this point in time, we have approximately 8,000.00 to spend in the science centers. The plan is to have the money divided equally among Physical and Life Science. Mr. Foster will be donating various supplies to the school centers, which include the following:

  • Van De Graaff Generator
  • Vacuum Chamber (without pump)
  • RODI System
  • Four Exo Terra Aquariums
  • Vision Cage
  • Protein Skimmer
  • Coral Lighting
  • Aquarium Chiller
  • Miscellaneous Pumps, Heaters, Chiller, Etc.

Some of you have expressed a desire to donate various items to this cause. If you are one of those willing, please let Mr. Foster and Mrs. Wilkerson know as soon as possible.

What Type of Items Should I Purchase?

The central theme behind a center is "permanence." What type of item can I purchase and use many times to teach a variety of concepts? When you visit a science museum, many of the attractions are "mainstays" to their facility. Example items may include the following:

  • Lasers
  • Van De Graaff Generator
  • Plasma Ball
  • Ruben's Tube
  • Tunning Forks
  • Giant Slinky
  • Inclined Plane
  • Solar Panel
  • Gyroscope Wheel
  • Education Roller Coaster
Stakeholders and Community Members

As expressed in earlier meetings, there are many people interested in getting these centers "off the ground." Please know, we are starting small. In regards to the Life Science Center, animals will only be purchased after the following has taken place:

  • Stands purchased and constructed
  • Aquariums purchased and placed
  • Lighting purchased and placed
  • Care sheets constructed and placed in lab
  • Appropriate plumbing in place
  • Water cycling occurs (usually takes 3-4 weeks)
  • Clear guidelines for student safety established
  • Clear guidelines for behavior in labs established
  • Training for stakeholders
  • Other concerns that may arise during the planning phase

As pointed out in the above paragraph, many community members are excited about the reality of these centers, including some within the Halifax County Public School System: parents, teachers, administration, etc. The administration at the middle school is asking all teachers to refrain from seeking assistance/advice from others outside our building. Recently, some lines of communication have been crossed and confusion has abounded. For example, some stakeholder are ready to provide us with free animals. We are not ready for such donations, nor are we ready to bring in others from outside our building to act as consultants.

What Type of Animals?

Safety...

We are asking the science teachers to send us a list of animals you desire in the building. After the list is submitted to us, the administrative staff will review the request. Mrs. Wilkerson will have the final say in regards to whether the animal is allowed in the building, or not. As we plan for these centers, student safety will be our number one priority. The following should provide a simple guideline as we plan for the Life Science Center:

  • No large snakes (Ball Python being the largest in regards to weight)
  • No tree boas
  • No venomous animals
  • No animal that requires expert-care levels: specific corals, Panther Chameleon, etc.
  • No lizards of the "Monitor" species: Savannah Monitor, Nile Monitor, etc.
  • No animal that has a tendency to bite or scratch
  • Wild caught animals (case-by-case scenario)
Salmonella

Reptiles have the capability to shed Salmonella is their feces. Salmonella is a bacterium that can cause severe digestive illness. Excluding reptiles, you can get Salmonella from eating a wide variety of foods, not just from eggs and undercooked poultry. Although poultry and eggs are primary culprits, Salmonella can be found in a variety of foods including ground meat, fruits, vegetables—even processed foods such as frozen pot pies.

When handling reptiles, it's of extreme importance to adhere to the following guidelines to prevent illness, as reported by the Center for Disease Control:

  • Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling reptiles and amphibians, and anything in the area where they live or roam such as their habitats, food, or equipment.
  • Children younger than 5, people with weak immune systems, and adults older than 65 should not handle or touch amphibians, reptiles or their environment. These groups have a higher chance of serious illness and hospitalization from Salmonella germs.
  • Don’t cross-contaminate! You don’t have to touch a reptile or amphibian to get sick from their germs. Any reptile food such as frozen or live rodents, equipment, and materials, including the tank water, can be contaminated with Salmonella and other germs.
  • Keep your reptiles and amphibians and their equipment out of your kitchen or anywhere food is prepared, served, or eaten.
  • Clean reptile and amphibian habitats outside your home.
  • If you cannot clean items outside of your home, clean items in a dedicated bin and use warm, soapy water to clean the bin and any surfaces it touches.
  • Don't kiss or snuggle with reptiles and amphibians.

As we prepare for next year, the administrative staff at HCMS will propose clear guidelines in the prevention of Salmonella transmission. More information will come as time progresses

Credits:

Created with images by cluczkow - "frog" • TBIT - "dollar bank note money" • astroshots42 - "Green laser reflection and refraction 1" • stokpic - "hands world map" • Hans - "grass snake snake head game" • NIAID - "Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)"

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