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Sinclear highlights science for a day
Foundation grant funds week
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Oscar Zaragoza, Jaiden Zavala and Angel Vega receive instruction from retired Westport Elementary School teacher Marcie Fernandes at the Seed Sort exhibit at Sinclear Elementary School on Friday morning. - photo by JEFF BENZIGER/Courier photo

Students were busy examining rocks, making fingerprints, seeing how many pennies would float on a boat of aluminum foil, removing simulated body parts from a plastic human body replica and studying animal skulls during a special Science Expo held Friday at Sinclear Elementary School.

The Ceres Unified School District Foundation issued a grant, applied for by teacher Suzette Stavrianoudakis, to help underwrite the expense of a week of science study that excited Sinclear students.

"Luckily, Ceres promotes science and exploration," said Stavrianoudakis, who looked around the buzz of the room and commented, "this is amazing."

By grade level, the K-6 students were able to circulate through the hands-on exhibits during their 45-minute visit culminating in a Friday Science Expo that filled the school's multi-purpose room with interesting exhibits.

Students stood in line to remotely control robots built and set up by the award-winning Central Valley High School robotics team.

Animal skulls, impressions of animal paw prints and replicas of animal dung were on display on a table offered by the Great Valley Museum of Modesto. Museum docent Kathy McAinnon also pointed out a display of porcupine quills which were pulled from a dog. She then looked around for a girl who wandered off with a stuffed animal possum with a baby bottle to illustrate that mammals are so classified because they drink milk. She also explained that bats are also mammals and are beneficial for gobbling up the world's population of mosquitos.

McAinnon encouraged students to enroll in the museum's Science for Kids summer program.

"All the kids are just wonderful," she said after the stuffed animal was returned to her table.

At an insect table, lady bugs busily marched inside of a porous container while one table over students were manipulating controls to light up bulbs to explain how electricity works. Exhibits also offered hands-on experiences with magnets, Legos, fossils, rocks and earth worms.

Approximately 40 volunteers, including many parents, retired teachers and School Board trustees, helped man exhibits and offer explanations to students. Stan Sinclear - for whom the school was named along with his late father Dale Sinclear - enjoyed interacting with the students.

The top science projects made by third- through sixth-graders were propped up for viewing.

"Some of them did it for a grade and some just did it for fun," said Stavrianoudakis.

"We've done it every other year," said Principal Connie Stark. "There's a lot of hands-on stuff they can do and explore."