following article appeared June 6, 2003 in the
a course for science
By Nicole T. Lesson
Pembroke Pines ˇ
Students are about to get more hands-on experience in a classroom that
has been transformed into a science and technology center.
Pembroke Pines Charter Middle School students will
be learning to forecast the weather, explore fossils and minerals, and
use a computer-controlled automatic telescope. "This
will give kids a more hands-on experience than a standard science
classroom," said Barry Perlman, the science teacher who oversees
the center. "I am excited and I wanted to get use of the
equipment, but we got it so close to the end of the [school] year. In
August, we will re-set everything up and all the science teachers will
work out a schedule for the students."
The center, which opened April 30, has rock,
mineral and fossil collections, a lightning detection system,
butterflies, bug and insect displays and other scientific items,
thanks to donations made mostly by a Boca Raton businessman.
Perlman said he has not seen science items like
this in a school, but he has in museums. "We have museum-grade
fossils from 500 million years ago to a few million years ago,"
said Perlman, who has been a teacher for more than 20 years.
In the fall, students will create a weather station
to forecast the weather. Sensors permanently connected to the roof of
the school will monitor the temperature and wind speed, and there will
be rain buckets to collect water. "Then we will tie it into
computers and keep long-term stats," Perlman said.
In addition, a lightning detection system mounted
on the wall can register bolts up to 60 miles away.
The science and technology center was made possible
by Richard Newman, who has loved science and technology since his
youth. He wants to expose youngsters to the learning aspects of
science. "It makes [science] available to a much greater range of
kids in a structured environment," he said.
For three years, Newman has been helping to open
science and technology centers at Boy Scout camps all over the
country, including in New York, Washington and Texas. The Seminole Boy
Scout Camp in Davie was the 11th center to open.
Now, the program is expanding to schools, and the
Pembroke Pines site was the first in the nation. Another center opened
this week in a middle school on the Sioux and Assiniboine tribes' Fort
Peck Reservation in Poplar, Montana.
Newman, who has agreed to sponsor the Pembroke
Pines school's science fair next year, said Perlman put a lot of
effort into getting the center opened. "Mr. Perlman did a
fantastic job setting up the center, and I will use that as a model
for other schools," he said.
Last fall, Newman got in touch with the school
after hearing about Perlman and the students sending a science
experiment up on the space shuttle Columbia. He underwrote some of the
costs associated with the experiment to see how space would affect
crystals. The experiment was thought to have been lost when the
shuttle exploded and killed its seven crewmembers on Feb. 1. But
investigators found the crystals, which were recently returned to the
The new science
center is formally known as High-Tech Productions.com Science and
Technology Center at Pembroke Pines Charter School, which Newman
named after his company's Web site. The Boca Raton-based company, High-Tech
Productions, converts, transfers and duplicates videos and DVDs.
Newman said he
scours the world looking for items to display in the science centers
by using his worldwide contacts, the E-Bay Internet auction site and
by making purchases from stores, distributors and manufacturers.
"I have bought items from cosmonauts in Russia, geodes from
workers in Brazil, space items from NASA engineers, posters and
displays from the European, Russian, Chinese and French space
agencies," said Newman, 47. "I would love to open at least
50 centers in all 50 states by the time I'm 50."
Newman also has some aquariums and ant farms he
wants to donate to the Pembroke Pines center, but will hold onto them
until the start of the new school year. Perlman wants to add other
items to the center. He plans to bring in a seismograph and a radio
"More and more kids are getting into science.
About 50 percent show an interest and about 10 to 20 percent show an
extreme interest," he said.
Sixth-grader Andrew James said he looks forward to
next year's lessons. "Mr. Perlman showed us the Geiger counter
and how it reacts to radioactivity by starting to beep," said
Andrew, 12. "We will get to work the weather system next year,
and there is a lot of other cool stuff to play around with."
For more information
on the Science & Technology Centers,
or to have a center
set up at a school near you, visit: