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Charles Dykes stretches his ?outrageous ooze? to the limit as his mother Saori and brother Joey watch at the Lifelong Learning Library?s Mad Science Night Jan. 26 at the Combat Center.

Photo by Cpl. Brian A. Tuthill

Combat Center’s Mad Science Night hit with kids, parents

26 Jan 2006 | Cpl. Brian A. Tuthill

Dozens of children and their parents poked, prodded, mixed, dropped, dripped and drooled over the fourth annual Mad Science Night Jan. 26 at the Combat Center’s Lifelong Learning Library.More than 25 children of all ages took part in the event, which was open to all, but planned as a preparation for the Morongo Unified School District’s upcoming science fair.“The goal of this event every year is to inform adults and students who are participating in the science fair for the district, and to let everyone have a good time to make science fun,” said Hope Rayman, library volunteer and former organizer for the exposition.“The best part was that all the kids were able to do each event this year,” Rayman said. “In years past, there had been some planning problems and maybe they could only do a few. Everyone this year got to do it all. That’s what we were going for.”Shirley Hofseth, a teacher and the Morongo district science fair coordinator, kicked off the evening by giving a presentation for kids and their parents on what is and is not prime science fair material.A common trend with students is that they do not distinguish an experiment from a presentation, she said. Making a volcano is a good example of one to avoid. A good way to find an experiment to do is to ask a question and find the answer to that question.After Hofseth’s lesson was over, the kids, many of whom had younger siblings with them, swarmed to the five activity tables.The first table was a color splash where oil, water and food coloring was swirled with a pencil on paper to make a tie-die looking design.A fingerprinting station, where kids used tape and pencil lead to see their own fingerprints, was the favorite event of the night for 6-year-old Jasmine McCook.“I liked the fingerprints with the pencils,” said the Oasis Elementary School 1st grader. “I’m having a lot of fun, and I got to see my fingerprints.”For her mother, May, she was impressed at how eager her daughter was to learn and have a good time.“This is good for her,” said McCook. “Everyone is here having a good time and I saw her having fun. She’s learning, too, and it’s important that she learn new things.”McCook also took part in some of the activities with her daughter, and said, “I liked the gooey stuff. It’s messy, but it’s fun and feels different.”The “gooey stuff” was part of the third and most popular station of the night, the outrageous ooze. By combining simple household materials and food dye to personalize their mixture, kids made and played with the semi-solid, semi-liquid goop they created, for the rest of the evening and even brought it home in plastic bags.At the next station the children created edible structures out of toothpicks and gumdrops and they made geodesic shapes at the next table.The water density demonstration table was an unexpectedly big hit, said Kay Emerson, head librarian. By combining color-coated water samples of different salt concentrations, students could see how dense each sample was.“The kids really liked doing the water density experiments,” said Emerson. “They actually wanted to take those home with them, where we thought they’d just dump it out. So that turned out great.”For Lindsay Nesbitt, the lead coordinator for Mad Science Night this year, the event was a complete success.“Tonight was all about making science fun for the kids,” said Nesbitt. “I was really happy to see that it all came together so well.”
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