Spooktacular Science takes over Gateway Science Museum

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The Gateway Science Museum hosted Spooktacular Science Saturday, where kids of all ages came to learn science … with a spooky twist Photo credit: Josh Cozine

Eyeballs levitated in midair, potions bubbled and brewed and objects seemed to move of their own accord, off in the back room of the local science museum. Cackles and wide-eyed grins came from the young, entranced visitors. No spell had been cast on them though, they were simply enchanted by the wonders of science.

The Gateway Science Museum played host to Spooktacular Science, Saturday, an event organized and ran by Chico State student members of the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) club. The members prepared multiple stations where kids could come learn about advanced scientific processes like the principles of air pressure, energy releasing chemical reactions, magnetism and more, all to the joy—and occasional spook—of the youthful guests.

“I thought it was just a museum,” said Trevor Hartt, a parent of one of the children visiting the Spooktacular Science exhibits.

“She’s pretty happy with it, and that’s what matters.” he said, pointing at his daughter as she crafted a magic potion made of baking soda and vinegar in a water bottle. The reaction between the two releases energy which filled a balloon—decorated to look like a ghost—placed over top of the bottle.

Liz Freitas, a Chico State student member of the NSTA club taught kids the science behind the ‘magic’ potions. She was impressed at how much the kids seemed to know already.

“They’re making lots of great educated guesses,” she said. Many of the kids said it was clearly a chemical reaction, even if they couldn’t guess the exact ingredients, and not a potion full of magical reagents.

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Left to right. Liz Freitas, Rowan Wilson and Grace McDonald, members of the National Science Teacher's Association club at Chico State, taught "Spooktacular Science" to children Saturday afternoon at the Gateway Science Museum. Photo credit: Josh Cozine

Other stations included a floating eye, being levitated by an air stream, where children extended or compressed the airflow tube, watching the eye either float higher, or lower, in accordance with Bernouilli’s Principle. Other classic tricks—like reaching into a box of cold spaghetti noodles said to be brains but recreated with famous scientists’ names on the box designed to look like a headstone—were there along with a magnetic pendulum that let kids test different metals magnetic properties.

Spooktacular Science was a one day only event, but one the children who attended are unlikely to forget.

Josh Cozine can be reached at [email protected] or @joshcozine on Twitter