Oak Harbor Library welcomes world of physics

Five-year-old Hayley Burt places items into a balance beam to learn about weight at the Physics on Wheels exhibit at the Oak Harbor Library on Wednesday. - Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times
Five-year-old Hayley Burt places items into a balance beam to learn about weight at the Physics on Wheels exhibit at the Oak Harbor Library on Wednesday.
— image credit: Katie McVicker/Whidbey News-Times

Four-year-old Jaxton Phillips knelt on the floor next to a wooden box and pushed a big yellow button which caused a pingpong ball to fly into the air. The contraption was designed to teach children how air streams are affected by different surfaces, but to Jaxton, it was pure magic.

“When it’s Christmas time again, I’m going to ask Santa for one of these,” he said.

Jaxton, along with dozens of other children, gathered at the Oak Harbor Library Wednesday for the Physics on Wheels exhibit presented by the Pacific Science Center located in Seattle. Physics on Wheels is one of the center’s many popular portable exhibitions. The exhibit began in 1990 and has since traveled to hundreds of community events and schools each year. It’s composed of 28 stations that teach children about the world of physics and centers on sound waves, light waves, electricity, magnetism and more.

“The activities are very hands-on,” Science on Wheels teacher Lauren Bloomenthal said. “They’re getting you not only to play, but they’re getting you to discover.”

Bloomenthal walked around the exhibit asking the children questions and showing them how to get the most out of their experience. She’s been with the Science Center for three years and has been traveling with the Science on Wheels program during the past year. She said the physics event always draws a large crowd.

Melissa Burt came to the exhibit with her kids and enjoyed watching her 5-year-old daughter Hayley place miniature fruits into a balance beam to learn about measurements and weight.

“We had a friend tell us about this, so we came out,” Burt said. “The kids like doing little science things.”

Eleven-year-old North Whidbey Middle School student Ashley Serna came to the library because she was simply interested in learning. She said she thought the event would be really cool and she wasn’t disappointed. Her favorite station was the periscope.

Ashley said though she likes science, she’d never consider going into that field because her “brain would probably get really confused.”

The Oak Harbor Library hosts activities for kids and teens throughout the year, and descriptions of them can be found on the library’s website. Children’s librarian Jane Lopez-Santillana said the events are extremely popular and she’s happy to see so many people involved.

“We’re trying to make this a community where people want to be and people can get information,” she said.

And, if people become motivated to check out related materials from the library after the event, that’s even better, she added.

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