Madison Elementary School students had the blessings of administrators, parents and teachers Thursday evening when they started blowing things up on their small campus on Olympia’s east side.
That’s because it was the school’s third annual Science Expo, a showcase for the work of 150 students’ scientific creativity.
Madison parent Aimee Pecan coordinates the Science Expo with fifth-grade teacher Jessica Duncan. Pecan told The Olympian the Madison Science Expo is much like a science fair, but with one major difference: the Madison PTO covers the cost of all materials — about $3,200 a year — so that every child is able to participate.
“We are a small Title I school of 250 students with many struggling families that could not afford to participate without this program,” Pecan wrote in an email.
The program also provides 2-1/2 hour workshops every Friday for eight weeks “to ensure that children without a place to live or those who are in turbulent situations as well as all other students can have a quiet, safe place to work,” she wrote.
Money for the program is raised by the students and their families through PTO fundraising, including the annual read-a-thon where students get sponsors to pay them for minutes they read.
Pecan said students are encouraged to meet the standards of district and Washington state competition requirements, and that can be expensive. Just to put together a display board averages between $8-$13 for a student, she said, so they cut the cost by buying supplies in bulk. Science Expo organizers also obtain unique and hard-to-find supplies — chemicals and equipment — so they can challenge students to take on exceptional projects.
“Madison students are truly amazing, brilliant and fearless and this showcases that in the best way,” she said.