EAST MOLINE — Nine-year-olds Deidrick Davis and Macy O'Mary looked tentatively at the cow eyeball they were dissecting at Glenview Middle School on Tuesday morning.
"That just freaks me out," Deidrick said as the two fourth-graders, dressed in white lab coats, took turns poking the walnut-sized object with plastic tweezers. Peering over her partner's shoulder, Macy exclaimed, "It's like jelly!" her oversized goggles slipping down the bridge of her nose.
For 54 Quad-Cities students, it was a typical day at the week-long Summer@IMSA program at Glenview this week.
Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy offers two all-day programs for area students:
— Science Explorers Juniors, for incoming third- and fourth-graders, features topics ranging from insects to space. Their dissection Tuesday coincided with a lesson about the biology of color.
— Kidsperation in Energy, for fifth- through seventh-graders, features different types of energy.
"This is science that is hands-on, is very student-constructed and provides them with the opportunity to explore what they're interested in," said Nicole Hoffman, Rock Island Regional Field Office Coordinator for IMSA.
Summer programs often are taught by area teachers, occasionally with help from older students. The junior program partners with the education department of Black Hawk College which provides five student volunteers who gain hands-on experience in the classroom.
Down the hall from the dissection lab Tuesday, Glenview teacher Kent Buckrop helped Kidsperation students create mockups of fuel cell cars. The environmentally conscious vehicles typically run on hydrogen gas rather than gasoline.
"It's a finite planet, so the more people think about the fact that resources are limited and that we should explore new ways to do things ... the better off we'll all be," said Ross Johnson, a Churchill Junior High teacher from Galesburg.
During an experiment with compasses and magnets, Jenny Rosauer, 10, recorded careful notes for her group. She talked eagerly about boat sails she had made the previous day for a lesson on wind energy.
Summer programs cost $250 per applicant. This year, Moline Foundation scholarships helped 10 students attend for $25.
"It's really cool," said Ms. Hoffman, "because kids from different elementary schools and different middle schools get to come together and make new friends because they have this common interest in science."