Science Circus

Helena High School seniors Zan Roush, left, and Sealey Raymond, right, practice one of the experiments showcased in this year's Science Circus earlier this week.

Wild and wacky experiments are part of the show performed by Helena High School's science students at the annual Science Circus on Friday and Saturday. 

Each year, students from the school's science seminar class host the circus as a fundraiser for their annual trip. The circus features students from all grades performing zany experiments and explaining the science behind them.

This year, the Science Circus has a lineup featuring intriguing oddities and crazy classics. Some of the experiments are: "e-lemon-tricity," "through the fire-flame tests," "alka-seltzer rockets," "Coke and Mentos," "bubble magic" and "writing with electricity." 

Additionally, the circus will feature a crime scene station, a fossil dig, face-painting and more. 

"We're the ones that organize and put on the event, but every grade is involved in some way," said Sealey Raymond, a senior in the science seminar class. 

Missy Sampson, a longtime science teacher at Helena High, said science seminar is the culmination of the school's science program. Science seminar students are responsible for making Science Circus happen. Sampson provides a guideline to the students, but takes a hands-off approach to event. 

"It's been really interesting to see this side of it and have it come full circle," said Zane Roush, a senior. "Having a booth is fun, but wandering the circus and knowing that we made this happen is really satisfying." 

Raymond and Roush have been involved with the circus in some way since freshman year. This year's circus is the culmination of years of work. Both students agreed that Science Circus has taught them about more than just biology and chemistry. 

The circus teaches the students who host it life skills, including networking, communications and public interaction. 

"Watching young people work together and make this happen is very satisfying," Sampson said. 

Sampson said she believes Science Circus is an excellent display of what is right about public education.

"It gives the students a chance to showcase their skills," she said. "They are an impressive group."

Roush described the circus as a very social experience where students interact with a variety of people. 

"It relates science to life," Raymond said, explaining the value of the circus to its visitors. 

Sampson is not only impressed with her students, but with the Science Circus as a concept. The event has stuck around for nearly 35 years and has grown exponentially in that time. 

"We are now getting former students who participated in Science Circus bringing their own kids," Sampson said. 

The event is used as a way to fund "education outside of our walls," explained Sampson. Proceeds from this year's circus will send science seminar students on a trip to stay at Rich's Montana Guest Ranch near Seeley Lake. 

"It's close to us, but many students have never seen it," Sampson said. "Out there we have our students look at conservation from different perspectives."

Sampson said the trip helps students have a better understanding of how to take care of the natural world.

"Our state is a different beast to take care of," she said. "It allows for a conversation about the footprint people leave." 

In the past, the students have helped clean camp areas around the lake. This year, for the first time in Sampson's 13 years teaching the class, she has two science seminar classes and two trips to take. 

However, she said the most important thing about the trip is just watching her students enjoy their weekend. 

"For a brief moment in April, they get to forget about the stresses of their future and just be kids," Sampson said. 

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