Family Science Night a success

Record attendance at Wilkinson event

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published May 16, 2016

 Jason Janigian, 10, and Jennifer Janigian, 6, both of Novi, climb the rock wall.

Jason Janigian, 10, and Jennifer Janigian, 6, both of Novi, climb the rock wall.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

MADISON HEIGHTS — Close to 1,300 people attended this year’s Family Science Night at Wilkinson Middle School in the Madison school district.

The May 6 event, now in its third consecutive year, featured a variety of indoor and outdoor attractions, many of them educational in nature.

“It’s a community event. It’s bringing everyone in our district together,” said Mike Janigian, a science teacher at Wilkinson and the organizer behind the popular event.

Once again, the Cranbrook Institute of Science set up shop inside the school, with around 14 different lab stations manned by students from the National Honor Society at Madison High School.

“We tried to cover the spectrum of life sciences and physical sciences,” Janigian said. “Both were a big part of it.”

There was a Van de Graaff generator that caused hair to literally stand on end with static electricity when touched. Another popular exhibit had students making slime. Yet another exhibit featured exotic insects like the Madagascar cockroach. There were exhibits on circuitry and magnets. The list goes on and on.

Other attractions included a clear tube you could step inside to safely experience hurricane-force winds while others watched from outside.

There was also an area set up by the Creative Arts Studio from Royal Oak where students could make wax casts of their hands and paint them in a variety of hues and patterns.

Outside the school, there were pony rides and a petting zoo, as well as a rock-climbing wall set up by Oakland County Parks and Recreation.

There was a giant trampoline and a gold-panning exhibit by the Michigan Mineralogical Society where students could try sifting for precious metals. There was even a video-gaming truck where students could go inside to play games like Minecraft.

“Three years ago, for the first Family Science Night, we had about 200 people,” Janigian said. “Last year we had between 1,000 and 1,100, and this year we were pushing 1,200 to 1,300. I take some pride in that, considering our middle school is 250 kids and our elementary school is 450.”

Randy Speck, superintendent of Madison District Public Schools, said that Family Science Night is just one example of how the district serves families. Another recent example would be the four-day spring carnival the district held at Madison High in April.

“The carnival exceeded our expectations in every way,” Speck said in an email. “Families had the opportunity to get out of the house and ring in the spring season in a wonderful way. Our carnival partners spoke incredibly highly of Madison Heights, and our local businesses benefited from the thousands of people who came out enjoying the beautiful weather. The first annual Madison Spring Family Carnival was a huge success — and we’re already planning for a great second year.”

As for Family Science Night: “The night was a great opportunity for students, family and friends to experience fun and learning at the same time,” Speck said. “Our school community provided a great service to the greater Madison Heights community by sharing real and relevant learning experiences. It was a great night.”