A group of children hovered around the robot outside the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Science as 5-year-old Perseus Molina asked the machine if it could talk.
Bakersfield Police Officer Nickolas Brackett, who was controlling the bomb squad’s electronic scout with what looked like a video game controller, smiled from afar and made it look like the robot was nodding.
The group burst into laughter and a series of follow-up questions followed in quick succession.
It was just another Science Saturday in the museum’s backyard, where the nonprofit invited community partners to demonstrate real-life science applications and teach kids hands-on lessons the last Saturday of each month.
“It started because we couldn’t do our summer camps this year, because of the lack of teachers really, more than anything,” said museum executive director Koral Hancharik. “We just wanted to be able to provide some extra science education for kids and something parents could do with their kids on a Saturday.”
Describing the museum as a “hidden secret” – befitting its hidden position on Chester Avenue next to Maria’s Home Furnishings and opposite a cosmetology school – once inside it’s easy to see how the children find it fun to learn there. Welcoming guests on the second floor is a replica of a triceratops skeleton. Nearby, parents and children gaped as a tarantula lover let a spider crawl past their outstretched little hands.
And, almost as if at the right time, David Hanley, assistant professor of science at the University of La Verne and member of the museum’s board of trustees, entered with a trolley full of learning tools before his presentation, a plan course he dubbed “Newtoning Around”. .”
“I’m wild, wacky science — science as a performing art,” said Hanley, a retired teacher who also gives presentations to educators on scientific methods in elementary school.
“The idea is for kids to learn fun science,” he said. Last month’s electricity lesson featured a Van de Graaff generator, and Saturday’s session involved Newton’s Cradle.
The latter is illustrated by a series of metal balls suspended from cables that collide. Common office decor demonstrates important principles of physics attributed to Sir Isaac Newton, Hanley said: Moving objects tend to stay in motion, and the same goes for objects at rest; and for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. He also had educational toys to give away as prizes to eager students.
David Klein, a former resident of Bakersfield in the city visiting family members who told him the museum was a must, watched as his children joined in the fun of running/being chased by the squad robot BPD bomb during the morning demonstration.
“We needed something to do with kids, so that was a good option,” Klein said, as Brackett and senior officer Juan Orozco explained to the kids how the robot helps police officers do their jobs. Some of the exhibits left the kids “amazed,” Klein added.
“There were three to five things my family said we needed to do, and this was one of them,” he said. “So far so good. The kids are happy, (so) we’re happy.
The next Science Saturday is scheduled for August 27.
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