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N.C. Research Campus gives students real-life science lessons

By Emily Ford
eford@salisbury.com
KANNAPOLIS ó Meeting a real scientist at the N.C. Research Campus and touring one of the massive brick buildings made quite an impact on Kannapolis elementary students this week.
“They think it’s the coolest thing,” Nikki Wolcott said. “The teachers have enjoyed it too.”
Wolcott, a science teacher at A.L. Brown High School, helped arrange for all 2,300 elementary students in the Kannapolis system to visit the UNC Nutrition Research Institute over five days.
Hour after hour, groups of about 100 students arrived in buses.
Researchers talked to each group in kid-friendly terms about what a scientist does. Then students checked out science exhibits prepared by every elementary school and displayed at the Research Campus.
Each school took a different theme from the system’s science curriculum, like “tools scientists use” and “animal bodies.”
High school students set up interactive labs where kids could jump on plates or squeeze sensors to see to see how much force they created.
A.L. Brown science teacher Scott Rodgers and Annie Parker, the system’s elementary coordinator, worked with Wolcott on the project.
They wanted a way to get kids more interested in science and ultimately score better on standardized tests, Wolcott said.
“We didn’t want to just do a science fair,” she said.
The $1.5 billion Research Campus under development in downtown Kannapolis includes branches of eight universities. Founded by Dole Food Co. owner David Murdock, the campus focuses on health and nutrition research.

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