The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry turned the second floor of the SAGE Center into an experiment lab.
OMSI took over the space at the Boardman museum Saturday for its Celebrate Oregon Agriculture event, a chance to share some of their popular exhibits and further hone the food science exhibits they use in their outreach program.
As a part of an Oregon Department of Agriculture program, OMSI developed several age exhibits that local children eagerly engaged poked, prodded and played with.
On one table, kids could clip a microscope to their cell phones and check out the surface of a piece of fruit. Across the floor, children could use baking soda or vinegar to make paper coated in blackberry or blueberry juice change in color.
Rebecca Reilly, OMSI’s food science educator, has a background in middle school education, giving her experience coming up with science-themed activities in short time frames.
Reilly said this was OMSI’s first year coming to Boardman and was using their SAGE Center trip as a trial run for its new agricultural exhibits. They’ll continue to tour with these exhibits at the county fairs in Lincoln and Benton counties before returning to Portland.
Using feedback from the first year, OMSI plans to return to the SAGE Center next year with bigger and better exhibits. Reilly said this was all in the interest of getting kids interested in where their food comes from.
Although not officially apart of its food science exhibits, a digital upgrade to a classic school science project was also taking its first tour around the state.
Instead of grocery store-bought products and the potential for mess, OMSI’s egg drop incorporates weighted, plastic eggs that kids are instructed to drop onto a swatch of carpet. Once the egg is dropped, sensors in the egg transmit information on the height and velocity of the egg to a computer that provides a readout on whether the egg survived the fall or not.
The egg drop rarely saw time where it wasn’t being used, as kids tried to use the paper plates, pipe cleaners and other protective products to try to save their plastic eggs from digitally cracking.
Along with some of its new exhibits, OMSI also displayed some of its old favorites like an animal fur and skeleton touching station, a small replica dinosaur skeleton that can be taken apart and reassembled and a variety of brain teasers that stump adults and children alike.
OMSI outreach educator Brad Alston said some adults will stick with a brain teaser — like an exhibit that requires people to try to fit a bunch of T-shaped plates into a square — all day to solve it.
“They’ll come up to me and say, ‘Please tell me the answer so I can go home,’” he said.
Regardless of their difficulty, parents and children alike signaled their approval for the OMSI event.
Abbigail Burleson, 7, of Hermiston said she liked the berry ink exhibit and the egg drop in addition to the tractor downstairs in the SAGE Center museum.
As Jane Waldher of Athena watched her two-year-old son Luke play with some magnetic rings in an exhibit, she said agricultural education was a must for the children of the region.
“It’s a missed opportunity in Eastern Oregon for kids not to learn about agriculture,” she said.
Contact Antonio Sierra at email@example.com or 541-966-0836.