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Hands-on museum: Awesome

Wilson Elementary students (and teacher) check out fuels, fires, bubbles and lights at ScienceWorks

ASHLAND ' Wilson Elementary School student Joey Campos had no idea how shocking science could be until he was zapped with the truth.

During his first visit to ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum on Wednesday, the Medford sixth-grader volunteered to be jolted by static electricity produced by a Van de Graff generator.

I liked it. It was so cool, Joey said. It was like 1,000 volts going through me. It kind of hurt.

Joey was one of 58 Wilson Elementary School students who took part in a field trip at ScienceWorks Wednesday morning.

The 10,000-square-foot museum opened to the public in December, and Wednesday marked the first day local school groups could tour the museum.

Students had a chance to check out more than 80 exhibits, ranging from black lights to optical illusions to giant bubbles.

Part of field trip included a lesson in fuel and combustion, presented by Program Coordinator Elib Crist-Dwyer.

His fiery demonstration ' popping a hydrogen-filled balloon with a small torch and igniting a dollar bill soaked in rubbing alcohol ' produced plenty of oohs and ahs from students.

You can't go wrong with fire, said Crist-Dwyer, whose lecture included a lesson on fire safety. They loved it.

Sixth-grade teacher John Bradshaw said he was impressed with the field trip.

I think this is just awesome, Bradshaw added. They're finding that science can be hands-on and fun. ... I'm probably enjoying this as much, if not more so, than they are.

More than 35 schools, including Klamath Falls, Yreka, Cave Junction and Grants Pass, are scheduled to take part in field trips at ScienceWorks this year.

Since the museum opened, Executive Director Sharon Javna said, more than 700 people have visited on Saturdays ' the only day it is open to the public. Roughly 50 percent of visitors are from outside the Ashland area, she added.

We're very pleased about that because we're a regional museum, she said. We're getting very good attendance.

Although the museum will eventually open on Sundays, organizers are unclear when that transition will take place.

ScienceWorks occupies part of the former Pacific Northwest Museum of Natural History building, vacant since that museum closed in 1997.

ScienceWorks rents the building from the Seattle-based Kirlin Foundation. Southern Oregon University owns the land on which the building sits.

If you go

ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays. It is off East Main Street and Waterman Avenue in Ashland. Admission is &

36;4 for adults and &

36;3 for children 2-12.

For more information, call 482-6767 or visit scienceworksmuseum.org on the Web.

Wilson Elementary School sixth-graders Austin Spielbusch and Shawny Mestaz got caught up in bubblemaking during a field trip Wednesday to ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum in Ashland. Mail Tribune / Roy Musitelli - Mail Tribune Roy Musitelli