Taking a Scientific Approach

Students get hands-on lesson from scientist at Melrose Library

Dozens of Putnam County children now know several scientific topics like the back of their hands thanks to a lesson Friday from Putnam County Public Library System’s favorite scientist. 

Dr. Holly Thomas walked eager children and their parents through the multitude of hands-on lessons at the Melrose Public Library. While she taught the children about the age of dinosaurs, the components of blood and the intricacies of the skeletal system, she made sure to make it a fun lesson.

“What I have seen over the years is if you can plant a little spark, a little interest, then it grows on its own,” she said. “If you can plant one teeny tiny spark, it will grow like crazy. I have seen it happen over and over and over again.” 

During the year, Thomas teaches education courses at Jacksonville University. As she puts it, she teaches teachers how to teach. But she gets the most joy from the work she does with the Putnam County libraries, each of which she will visit at some point this summer. 

“That is my other job, but my most important job is with the students here. I just love it,” Thomas said. “I love doing this because this is our future. This is it.” 

Each group Thomas teaches is presented with different interactive lessons. Friday’s group, for example, learned about blood cells and where blood is formed via a demonstration with sugar, ice cubes and Kool-Aid. 

Ella Nettle, 7, of Interlachen is one child who became enthralled with the lesson. Once she saw Thomas mix the three components, which represented red and white blood cells and platelets, she was hooked on learning more. 

“Watching the experiment was so much fun,” she said with a smile. “The experiment was fun because it just made me want to do it and learn more.” 

Another component of Friday’s lesson involved Leonard, a model skeleton Thomas used to demonstrate the facets of the skeletal system. Students learned about sockets, vital organs and bone structure, all while being entertained. 

“I had fun with the experiment teaching us how to make blood, and I really liked Leonard,” said Eden Rodriguez, 8, of Melrose. “I never knew that was how it worked. It was amazing.” 

The children were not the only ones getting in on the fun, either. Thomas encouraged any parents present to participate in the activities and helped each family learn how to perform the same activities at home, which she said is a vital component of a child’s education. 

“I have found that the moms and dads are a lot of fun. Sometimes they get more excited than the students do when are doing different things,” Thomas laughed. “Without parents and the influence parents bring to the table, the students are not going to be able to do what they can do with parent support.”

Thomas’ next stop at a Putnam County library this summer will be 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Interlachen Public Library, 133 County Road 315 in Interlachen.

Palatka Daily News

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