"Eighth-graders are into physical science, so what we're going to do with our demonstrations is show sound, we also have a Newton's cradle we can show them, we have electricity, plasma ... we try to give the program and tailor it to the things the kids are learning in school," said Calvin Marschall, educational service specialist with the NSC. "Right now a lot of them are into movement, sound, kinetic energy, so we try to do that. Our program is not to teach them anything, our program is to either reinforce something they've learned in class by giving them a visual example or to introduce them to something they might start to study in class."
Marschall explained the NSC mobile unit is funded through the Department of Defense, the U.S. Army and the Federal Government and travels around the country performing science demonstrations at schools at which they have been invited. The program includes demonstrations on static electricity, frequency, sound and resonance and persistence of vision.
"We want the kids to stay off drugs and look at science and math, and so it's here not only to let them learn a few things but to make sure their interest stays, they may end up going on to college and doing sciences," Marschall said. "Even though it's half worked by the [U.S. Army], most scientists working for the government are civilians, so they need these people to continue on through education and look at science and math and hopefully discovering or developing something that will benefit everybody."
Marschall said his favorite demonstrations deal with Van De Graaff generators -- electrostatic generators which use a moving belt to accumulate high voltages on a hollow metal globe on top of a stand.
"Ours is powerful enough that on the right day you can shock everybody in the class with it by just holding hands," Marschall said.
The demonstration dealing with sound involves using its power to bend glass until it breaks.
"We get some 'oohs' and 'ahhs' when we show them sounds and the acoustical glass bender that actually shows them what sound looks like because we can't see sound," Marschall said.
Sgt. 1st Class Airborne Cook said the intent of the program is to reach students who may not be interested in science and show them how their lessons can be applied hands-on.
"A lot of [the Mobile Discovery Center] is gaining re-interest in education in the sciences," Cook said.
Science instructor Christine Alderman said she has been on a waiting list for three years to have the NSC mobile unit visit the school. She said the program gave a visual representation of what she's been teaching in the science curriculum.
"It's a way for students, especially eighth-graders, to visually see something instead of me standing up and describing it," Alderman said. "They'll remember [the demonstrations]."
Marschall said he wants students to become engaged in the demonstrations so they can apply the physical side of science with the other aspects of science discussed in school.
"Science is fun, so let's play with it," Marschall said.