'Dinosaur Days' Dazzles Young Minds

Kathy Heinz offers hands-on, educational projects for little ones at the Community Rec Center.

The dinosaur may be extinct, but after a few million years, they’re hotter than ever. Kathy Heinz made the dinosaurs come alive with “Dinosaur Days” at the Peters Township . Heinz taught several area kids the fun facts about fossils. She created volcanoes, dinosaur eggs and a geyser.

The class is geared for children between the ages of two to six. Heinz wants the kids to get the science bug early by offering up some cool, fun projects.

The volcano is probably the most famous of the fun science projects, made with vinegar and baking soda. The boys and girls get a kick out of watching a plastic bottle bubble and foam.

The dinosaur eggs were plastic dinosaurs ensconced in a mixture of coffee grinds, flour, sand, water and salt that the children got to mix and mold into shape. The kids are supposed to wait three days for the eggs to harden, and then they can crack them open and get their dinosaur out, but as Mary Kay Rigby, one of the moms, remarked, “Something tells me they’ll be cracking the eggs open as soon as we get home today.”

The children also buried dinosaurs in plaster of Paris dioramas, complete with fossil tracks and plastic palm leaves.  

“I think the kids really liked the geyser the best,” Heinz said. Making geysers spout with Mentos and soda pop is an old faithful favorite of the science-loving instructor and her students.

The children, ages ranging from three to five years old were fascinated by her captivating science projects. She also handed out dinosaur stickers to her charges.

Garrett Rigby exclaimed, “I like the pterodactyls!”

Three-year-old Allison Bentz said, “I like the blue one,” referring to her plastic toy dinosaur. Allison and her brother David were enamored by their science projects. The children already seemed to have a decent grasp on dinosaur facts and fiction. All the boys were wearing dinosaur T-shirts. David was sporting a bright red tee with a Tyrannosaurus Rex lunging out, its giant toothy maw opened wide.

The kids knew more about dinosaurs than they did about themselves. Troy Angel expounded on the horns of a Triceratops, but when he was asked to give his full name to be included in this article he responded, “I have a last name, but I don’t remember it right now.”  His mom offered up the correct answer.

Heinz ended her series of experiments with snow cones. After all, it was the Ice Age that finished the reign of the dinosaurs; she thought it fitting that ice ended her class about them as well.

In March, Heinz will teach a one-day class at the entitled “Groovy Science.” In it, the children will go to the moon (figuratively). They will shoot rockets, and watch parachutes glide downward. Other projects including making kaleidoscopes, slime, goo and edible Play Doh. They will experiment with magnets and a Wooly Willy, a toy with metal filings that you can move around with a magnetic wand to add features to a cartoon face (a smiling bald dude).

It sounds like a totally groovy way for your kids to spend an afternoon. After all, they were really digging the fossils.


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