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Dorothy Chan '12 is a writer intern for the Cornell Chronicle, and writes about CLASSE program “Junk Genies of Science”.

Every week, eight to 12 middle school students from the Greater Ithaca Activities Center (GIAC) afterschool program build complex science exhibits in the eXploration station behind Wilson Lab. Dubbed the "Junk Genies of Science", they create models that exhibit principles of physics.

The Junk Genies grew out an effort to launch a summer enrichment program for GIAC students last spring.

"During the summer months, students don't really have enrichment programs in science or engineering. Most camps are recreational or art and music oriented", said Lora Hine, director of educational programs at the Cornell Laboratory for Accelerator-based Sciences and Education (CLASSE). "Cal Walker, the liaison between Cornell and the Ithaca City School District, suggested that we contact GIAC with our ideas".

Two programs evolved: Junk Genies and Garbage 2 Gadgets, in which students both during and outside of school construct contraptions out of everyday objects, such as cups into working headphones and cardboard folders into photo-powered video cameras. The programs are part of Xraise, the outreach arm of CLASSE, which also hosts teacher development workshops and a summer camp to make science appeal to children. One key aspect of the Junk Genies program is that children are encouraged to problem-solve to reach an end goal.

Read the Cornell Chronicle article:

Archived version (pdf)

"JunkGenies Capture the Magic" video: (Flash player required)



Submitted by: Ernie Fontes, CHESS, Cornell University