The Village Free School rents space from OMSI; they are located across the street and no more than half a block down from OMSI’s main entrance. It is therefore no big deal for the Free School to take advantage of the classes that OMSI makes available. Since these tend to be scheduled for roughly the beginning of the school day (i.e., about 10am), I’ve been tagging along on those excursions that Nathan and Ryan have chosen to join in on. So far this year:
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich Robot: This class involved a “robot” (person in a shiny lab coat) being programmed to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was a fun exercise in how stupid computers can be (the robot, when told to put peanut butter on the bread, would pick up the peanut butter jar and plunk it down on the bag of bread) and touched lightly on a bunch of programming concepts, going as far as loops. The kids had to throw out all the ideas although the staff member helped guide them occasionally.
Fossils: There were a variety of fossils available to play with and inspect, a quick discussion of what fossils are (though less of that than I personally was interested in; then again, I’m not the target audience), and then some hands-on exercises using actual fossilized material. The kids could dig through peat from Southern Oregon looking for fossilized seeds, scrape soft stone off a triceratops bone with dental picks, and drill harder stone away from other bone fragments. I was impressed that all the samples were genuine, if obviously not that crucial to the progress of science.
Paper Circuits: I missed this one, being a bit under the weather, but Nathan went to it. Apparently they used conductive tape, along with LED lights and batteries, to lay out working electrical circuits. Unfortunately Nathan’s ability to generate concise and pertinent descriptions, while better than Ryan’s, was still not up to the task of describing the experience in any more detail. Nor have I yet been able to convince him to bring things like circuits and artwork home with him so we can see them.
In addition to the OMSI classes the kids have walked to a nearby beach on the Willamette River and gone to an art studio called Art A La Carte for some crafting. Coming up this month are such excursions as snow tubing on Mt. Hood and a production of The Jungle Book on stage.