By day, the Buckeye Woods Elementary School cafeteria serves food that eases students' physical hunger.

On two recent nights, the room served as a laboratory to feed their minds.

The school's PTA held the second in a series of Family Science Nights on Feb. 26 and 27.

"The program is designed to give kids a little more exposure to science outside of the classroom," said Susan Ballinger, a chemist and PTA member who is coordinating this year's science nights.

"We try to come up with activities that fit the grade level and relate indirectly to what they're learning in the classroom," she said.

The February program was held for second- and third-graders.

The activities included testing materials such as a sponge, cotton and canvas to see whether they absorb or repel water.

Youngsters also had the chance to build catapults and test how far they could propel an object using their device, Ballinger said.

Each child worked with a parent or other family member on the activities, she said.

"One of the nice things about this program is that it gives parents a chance to visit their child's school and work with them on a fun learning activity," Ballinger said.

A Family Science Night program was held in October for kindergarten and first-grade students, she said.

"At the fall program, the activities included having the students build towers to see how tall they could build them without toppling over," Ballinger said. "It helped give them a basic introduction to engineering."

A science night for fourth-graders will be April 16 at Buckeye Woods.

"We try to mix up the activities each year so that no child does the same activity twice," Ballinger said.

Third-grader Jackson Drake was working on his activities with his mother, Mandy Nance.

"I just really like science," Jackson said. "It's interesting and fun."

Mandy Nance said she was enjoying the chance to spend time with her son and encourage his budding interest in science.

"He's really fascinated by the solar system," she said. "It's good to see him excited about science."

Second-grader Isaac Hurd pondered a bit as he tried to predict whether water would be absorbed or repelled by a sponge.

"I got it right," he said when his hypothesis that the sponge would absorb water turned out to be right.

Isaac was paired up with his father, Andy.

Although Isaac initially indicated he likes all kinds of science, his father reminded him of his career goals.

"I'd like to be a meteorologist someday," Isaac said.

Asked if he's excited when a thunderstorm rolls in, the answer was no -- Isaac said he's prone to get a little nervous.

"I'd like to be able to predict when they're going to happen," he said.