“If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.” - Rachel Carson 

MasonFEST (Families Experiencing Science Together) is a unique, fun, educational, high quality opportunity for Mason Prep students and their parents to experience real “in the field” science together. MasonFEST is designed to immerse our students in science, giving them unique opportunities to learn from professionals who are experts in their fields. Far from typical field trips, our students are given access to places, programs and equipment not usually open to the public. MasonFEST programs are for students in grades 1-8, and students attend with an adult to create a special parent/child team experience. Past programs have ranged from visiting a gibbon refuge to dissecting sharks. This unique family science program has been in operation since 1989 and is available only to Mason Prep families. Come join the fun! 

2016 - 17 Programs
We have a great line-up of family science programs for our students in grades 1-8!  Two programs have been planned for students in each grade level. Most programs have a limit of 12 student/parent teams. 
If a program does not fill with students of the designated grade levels, an additional e-blast announcement will be sent to parents of the next-closest grade, inviting them to register, as well. For example, if a grade 5/6 program did not have sufficient registration, students in grade 4 or grade 7 (depending upon the program’s subject matter) would be invited to attend.  

Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis. Program announcements, with registration forms, will be sent via e-blast to parents and hard copies given in class to students on the Friday two weeks before the program dates listed below - or, you can download one via the following link. Watch for them and return directly to Cindy Renkas.   DOWNLOAD A REGISTRATION FORM

Night Sky Viewing 
Grades 3 & 4
Saturday, March 4 6:30-8:30 pm (March 11, if the weather is not conducive to viewing on March 4) 
Mullet Hall, Johns Island
Have you ever gazed skyward at night and wished you had a knowledgeable guide to tell you what you were looking at? Then this is your chance! The Lowcountry Stargazers will have their telescopes of varying sizes and designs set up for us at Mullet Hall on Johns Island, ready to show and tell us more about some of the objects we hope to see, including Mars and Venus, various double stars, globular and open star clusters, galaxies such as Andromeda and Bodes, the Great Orion Nebula, several bright stars and constellations visible at this time of year, and a waxing sliver of the moon that should be spectacular. The Mullet Hall site is dark enough that we should have a very nice view of the Milky Way, too – an especially treasured sight for those of us living with urban “light pollution.”   
Registration for this program closes Friday, February 24. 

MasonFEST SCHEDULE 2016-17
Grades 1 & 2

October 1 - See What's in Our Sea (DNR, James Island)
April 29 - Edisto Boat Eco-tour (mouth of S. Edisto River/St. Helena Sound) 

Grades 3 & 4  
November 5 - Fire Museum (North Charleston)
March 4 (11th backup weather date) - Lowcountry Stargazers (John's Island) 

Grades 5 & 6 
September 24 - Birdwatching (Pitt St. Causeway)
February 11 - Cooking with Insects (location TBD) 

Grades 7 & 8  
October 22 - Real Life CSI (Mason Prep)
January 21 - Chemistry of Color (College of Charleston)

We Had a Great Time at These MasonFESTs!
Bug Appetit!
Parents and their fifth and sixth grade students enjoyed preparing and eating bruschetta with crispy ants, fried rice  with mealworms and cricket flour chocolate chip cookies during our Bug Appetit MasonFEST program.

Fire Museum
Third and fourth grade student and parent teams had a great time exploring the North Charleston Fire Museum with a real firefighter as our guide. We learned a great deal about the history of firefighting while viewing beautifully restored vehicles dating back as far as the 1780's, and also enjoyed watching the "Home Fire Hazard Theater" complete with vibrating floors, real water spray and smoke. Sliding down a pole, climbing on a Haz Mat firetruck, testing our ability to carry the weight of a firefighter's gear, and driving a fire truck simulator were other memorable activities.

Real Life CSI
Sixth through eighth grade students and parents will never view CSI-themed TV shows the same after working with Joe Lobo, Crime Scene Supervisor for the Forensic Services Division of the Charleston City Police Department. Participants got to dust for fingerprints on a variety of common surfaces, interpret blood spatters (red paint) and bullet trajectories and use ALS (alternate light sources) to detect "invisible" fibers and other substances which could help with crime scene analysis. 


See What’s in Our Sea 
First and second grade student/parent teams had a blast at the Grice Marine Laboratory at DNR on James Island with Marine Operations Manager Pete Meier.  Captain Pete had students checking a crab trap; pulling a plankton net; marveling at enlarged phyto- and zoo-plankton on a big screen; sorting through "fouling community" samples to discover crabs, bristleworms, sea squirts, sponges, and even a tiny seastar; walking wide-eyed through a collection of decades of preserved fish specimens; and....drum roll.....touching fish, crabs, and a seastar in their very own specially-created touchtank.  A grand time was had by all!

Take a Birdwalk

The first MasonFEST of the year was a birding adventure on the Pitt St. bridge featuring a Mason Prep alum as our guide! Jack Rogers, Mason Prep class of 2014, led the program. Jack helped the group identify species and explained what makes each species different from another; where they breed, winter, and migrate; and answered lots of questions. Thank you, Jack! 

Questions or comments?  Contact MasonFEST Coordinator Cindy Renkas: