work and play

We’re rounding out the first week of the 2016 tour of Science in the Parks, and already we’re having all kinds of fun. On our Facebook page and on our Flickr account you can see photos that people post. (In addition, we had this recent bit of press, and some people out in the community are tagging their own photos with #scienceintheparks.) There are so many moments, both captured in photos and in memory, where there’s not just the image of a magnet pulling iron filings or flakes of glitter making patterns on a vibrating plate, but the look on kids’ faces as they play with these things. Big eyes, careful concentration, and wide grins are all the norm.

On the other side of it all is the staff and volunteers out in the sun in the middle of the day, setting up the tents and pulling out the 5-gallon buckets of bubble solution and cleaning up all the goo on Fridays. This year, we brought out sand and water erosion tables — so kids could see how water and sediment interact with various channels and dams — but this, of course, means that someone has to lug all the sand and water to the parks, set up the system of tubes, and clean it all up afterwards. (Fortunately, kids love helping us dig up the sand after we’re done.)

That’s just the tip of the iceberg of work that goes into the program. Yesterday afternoon, as I was leaving campus and checking on supplies, I found this:

IMG_2440

Staff and volunteers have prepared 250 little baggies, each filled with a precise mixture of glue and water. When they get to the park today, kids will get to add a squirt of some Borax and water, along with some food color, to make a slime that they can take home. Because everyone should have some slime to take home, right? I’m grateful that kids clamor to get their slime, that parents tolerate the slime they get to take home, and especially that we have people who are preparing the bags of slime (and the sand and the corn starch and the bubbles and … ) and helping everyone else to get their own hands in it.