Travis Wallingford enjoys sharing his love of science with children. For him, it means introducing the next generation to a world that seems almost “magical” to them.
“When you explain sea creatures or fossils or anything like that, and they’ve never heard about it, kids think it’s amazing. I love to see their faces light up,” he said.
Wallingford is a service member with the local branch of AmeriCorps, a national community service organization.
He and a team of about 10 AmeriCorps members will host a hands-on science fair with slime, volcanoes, lava lamps and other scientific goodies. The event is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Children’s Discovery Museum in Kelso’s Three Rivers Mall. It is free and open to the public.
In addition to the museum’s regular displays, the event will include an exhibit by the Reptile Road Show, the Cowlitz Beekeepers Association and the Southern Washington Mineralogical Society. Children can also participate in experiments and science-based activities, like making and racing balloon cars.
“We want to make it as much like play as possible because that’s the best way to learn,” said Wallingford, co-lead planner for the event. “You see that every day at the museum.”
The science fair is a kick-off event for “Science Sundays” at the museum, according to the museum’s Facebook page. It also corresponds with national AmeriCorps week, which celebrates AmeriCorps programs and organizations, Wallingford said.
Troy Packard, program director for the AmeriCorps branch that serves Cowlitz and Wahkiakum counties, said the organization usually plans four service projects like this each year.
“We want to help programs reach more people and expand their services,” Packard said. “The majority of the time, our service projects are landscaping or cleanups, but this year we focused a little bit more on resource-type activities for the kids and the community.”
The science fair does just that, Packard said.
“It gives us the opportunity to reach out to the community and the younger kids to provide a special time they can come and get hands-on experience (with science),” he said.
Organizers like Wallingford hope the science fair becomes an annual event for the museum.
“The way I see it is if we can bring the world of science to the next generation of young scientists, they can pretty much make a big impact on the world,” Wallingford said.