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Hampshire library program teaches basics about physics

AmandAcker 7 Matthew Wrzal10 both Hampshire hold giant Slinky show how sound waves travel Science Alliance program Faithway Baptist Church

Amanda Acker, 7, and Matthew Wrzala, 10, both of Hampshire, hold a giant Slinky to show how sound waves travel, at a Science Alliance program at Faithway Baptist Church in Hampshire this week. | Denise Moran~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: August 19, 2013 2:51PM

HAMPSHIRE — Scott Douglas of Science Alliance in Lake Geneva, Wis., brought audience members to their feet this week inside Faithway Baptist Church as he taught them about the laws of motion.

The “Fun With Physics” program was sponsored by the Ella Johnson Memorial Public Library in Hampshire.

“Physics is the study of objects and their motion through space,” Douglas said.

He had two children hold a giant Slinky to show how sound waves travel.

Other children were asked to blow pingpong balls out of a funnel to prove Daniel Bernoulli’s principle that moving air exerts less pressure than still air. Douglas explained that Bernoulli’s principle can help us to understand why birds and airplanes can fly.

Douglas talked about how people use infrared thermal imaging cameras to detect heat. He noted that helicopters with infrared cameras recently were able to find the Boston bombings suspect inside a boat.

The most popular activity at the end of the program was riding a hovercraft. Douglas said it was an example of Sir Isaac Newton’s third law of motion, which states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

“I thought the hovercraft was fantastic,” said Garrett Fuhrman, 9, of Hampshire. “It reminded me of the Batman Ride at Six Flags Great America.”

“It was cool,” said Lydia Miller, 11, of Pingree Grove. “It was unlike any other ride I’ve been on.”

Science Alliance was established by Bill Bosworth in 1990. For more than 20 years, Science Alliance has traveled around the country encouraging children in kindergarten through eighth grade to learn more about science. Some of the programs offered include Bringing Chemistry to Life, Understanding Our Habitat, Investigating the World of Entomology, Taking the Terror Out of the Science Fair, and Get Hip to Health.

Safety stressed

Safety was stressed throughout the program. Douglas warned children about the danger of playing with matches. While children held fluorescent tubes to create a “human electric bridge,” Douglas reminded them that the tubes are not toys and should be handled carefully.

“Never play with something that you can’t handle safely,” Douglas said.

Faithway Baptist Church has hosted a number of programs over the past two years for the library since the library does not have sufficient room for larger events.

“We’re so grateful that Faithway lets us use their space,” said Dawn Cummins, the library’s youth services manager. “It’s very generous of them to let us hold programs here.”

Over the past year, the church has hosted a library program on bats, a Dr. Seuss birthday party, and a surf and turf puppet show.

Cummins said that the “Fun With Physics” program held this week ties in with the library’s summer reading theme of “Have Book, Will Travel.”

Hampshire resident Sydney White, 11, said she would like to become a scientist one day.

“I learned that science can do all kinds of different things,” White said. “You can make all kinds of contraptions. As a scientist, I would like to figure things out.”

Lynn Acker, a deacon with the church and a past president of the Hampshire Area Chamber of Commerce, said he thought the Science Alliance program was excellent.

“The adults enjoyed it, and the kids had a lot of fun,” Acker said. “They got to know a lot about physics. The subject was presented in a fun way for kids.”

“Scott Douglas exceeded expectations,” Cummins said. “He did a good job of engaging the audience.”

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