Ashley Jamieson had two lessons for the kids in her Calapooia Middle School classroom on Saturday morning as they prepared to take on an engineering project: Persist and walk away.
“If engineers in real life gave up we would have half-built bridges and your shoes would be falling apart,” she told them. “If you get frustrated, take a step back and look at what other people are doing because all science has been built on science that has come before it.”
Jamieson is part of the outreach team at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland. OMSI and Albany Parks & Recreation partnered with Greater Albany Public Schools to host Super Science Saturday, a day of workshops focused on engineering, chemistry and physics. For $8, Albany residents could take part in one of three workshops based on age and attend a “Science of Circus” assembly. Saturday marked the program's 22nd year in Albany.
The outreach team consists of six people and 40 different kits covering engineering, astronomy, biology and other science disciplines.
“We travel to, not only schools here but all the way up to Alaska and over to Montana, down to California and we bring science to people who may not be able to come to our museum,” Jamieson said.
On Saturday, Jamieson guided kids through “roller-coaster madness.” The project called on them to use their understanding of gravity and a few basic materials to create a roller coaster that would carry a marble through a series of tubes to the floor.
Just down the hall, Philip Wright was leading a lesson on surface area.
Kids ages 6 through 8 squealed and shouted while attempting to raise a ball up a plastic tube using only water. It was but a precursor to the main event: boat-building.
“You arrived on a deserted island and discovered treasure,” Wright told the kids. “But, your ship was wrecked.”
Using plastic straws, a sheet of aluminum foil and their imagination, the kids had to create a boat that would rescue them from the island and carry their treasure — glass stones.
“The goal here is to solve problem through engineering,” Wright said.
Lyndsey Lancaster brought her twin boys Liam and Elliot to Calapooia Middle School early Saturday to take part in Wright’s workshop.
“For me it’s really important for them to learn about engineering and how to make things work and it’s something that’s really exciting for them,” she said. “They’re having a good time spending their morning doing something productive.”