2 Hamilton organizations team to teach kids about the eclipse

The kids at the Booker T. Washington Center and Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton will learn all about the upcoming total solar eclipse, including producing a homemade eclipse viewer.

The science festival supporting the kids at the two organizations, and hosted at the BTW Center on South Front Street, will be led by Hamiltonian and chemical engineer Scott Smallwood, who made these eclipse viewers when he was a kid.

“I think it’s important for these kids to understand what the eclipse is and the science behind it,” Smallwood said. “You never know who’s going to be the next person that creates something that can save the world or make our life better. A lot of kids don’t have that exposure early, they don’t create that passion.”

That’s a big reason why Smallwood is now a chemical engineer with Michelman Inc. in Blue Ash. In fourth grade, one of his teachers on occasion had students go to the back of the classroom and do something creative, like writing or drawing. Smallwood would always play with a chemistry set.

“Creating a passion at a younger age not only helps the kid find a way, but it will also help society,” he said. “It’s not getting any easier anymore to get a good job, and kids who have that ability need to be encouraged to go forward with it.”

Booker T. Washington Center Executive Director Ebony Brock and Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton Chief Executive Officer Tommy John are firm believers of collaboration and leveraging resources. Both organizations have had Smallwood lead science experiments and activities at their organizations individually, so it made sense for them to collaborate.

“Anybody that spends any amount of time with me knows I believe in co-creation and I believe in intentional collaboration, especially when it makes sense and when it comes to serving our youth, teens and families,” said Brock. “Basically, it’s just going to be a day filled with various science experiments all focused around the solar system.”

John said resources, including volunteers, within the community aren’t just for one nonprofit or another.

“Contributions and donations should be maximized to help as many as possible,” he said. “Because when they collaborate, work together, combine resources on outreach, you’re connecting more families to potential opportunities to improve their quality of life.”

While John said he doesn’t have a chemical engineer on staff, he and Brock have a volunteer in Smallwood “with great qualifications, knowledge, teaching kids something that we can’t. Having a volunteer like Scott teaching the kids what they know, that’s invaluable.”

While Smallwood said you never know which kid will grow up to come up with the next big scientific breakthrough, Brock said that could be a lot of the school kids of the youngest generation.

“I think we’re seeing a growing trend in science, especially in that area of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), and I have a lot of kids at the center that are interested in STEM,” Brock said, adding that there are many that love science and “there are some kids that don’t even know what they love yet.”

And activities like this, which will happen on spring break will help kids learn without them feeling like they’re always in school. At places like BTW and the Boys and Girls Clubs, Brock said, “They’re in a space where learning is always happening.”

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