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Science center creates summer memories

This article appeared in the August 19, 2011 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

Science center creates summer memories

Education Specialist Lisa Justice and summer campers investigate spider web construction.

By Lisa Justice
Special to the Enterprise

A recent Monday morning at Explorit Science Center found a pre-kindergarten class experimenting with wheels and axels by racing wooden cars of their own design down a ramp.  Nearby first- and second-graders searched high and low for examples of the six different types of simple machines including pulleys, levers, wheels, ramps, wedges and gears.  Meanwhile third- through fifth-graders unraveled the mystery of the missing glue.

And that’s all just a typical day at Explorit’s Summer Science Camp.  Sponsorship by the Monsanto Fund and the Yocha Dehe Community Fund made it possible for Explorit to offer five different hands-on themes this year.

In the transportation-themed camp students designed vehicles while studying pollution and fuel alternatives.  A science professionals-themed camp allowed students to experience a day in the life of a geologist, plant ecologist, medical doctor, food technician or veterinary scientist.

Students in the science mysteries camp used microscopes and critical thinking to investigate the unexplained and figure out who may have taken the glue from their classroom.

Budding animal scientists in an animal-themed camp explored many adaptations that help different animal species thrive in their particular habitats.  From paper-making wasps to a skink’s blue tongue, students had a chance to experience the world through animal eyes.

Young artists dazzled Davis with their creations and discovered the science behind many modes of artistic expression in an art and science-themed camp.

Whether it was dissecting sheep lungs or digging for rocks and fossils in Explorit’s backyard, students experienced the science that impacts their daily lives.  A class on different kinds of spider webs was rewarded with the discovery of a picture-perfect orb weaver web on Explorit’s front porch.

Explorit has been offering such camps to the Davis community for nearly thirty years, influencing countless children to both gain a better understanding of the world around them and possibly pursue science careers.

Explorit’s summer camps have also been a valuable learning environment for dozens of middle school and high school volunteers and college interns who serve as summer teaching assistants.  These volunteers gain classroom and workplace experience while guiding campers in scientific discovery.

So as the summer winds down and students return to their school-year classrooms, scores of summer science camp alumni will take with them a deeper understanding and appreciation of the science happening all around them.  A few may also take fond memories of painting with Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches.

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Explorit Science Center’s 3141 5th St. site is the location for field trips, programs for groups, astronomy club meetings, and Summer Science Camp.  It is also the hub for Explorit’s traveling programs that reach an 18-county region.  The site is open to the public for special events and to groups by reservation. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit http://www.explorit.org.

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