TRUCKEE, Calif. — Airplanes weren’t the only things taking off last week at the Truckee Tahoe Airport.
So, too, were the imaginations of roughly 1,000 pre-kindergarten through second-grade students from the Truckee/Tahoe region, who explored the sciences by learning about flight, weather, animals and problem-solving.
“(It’s) to inspire them, for them to enjoy it and want to learn more,” said Carol Meagher, executive director of KidZone Museum.
The museum partnered with the airport district to bring educators with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry to Truckee. They provided various hands-on, inquiry-based science stations during multiple sessions last Thursday and Friday.
Among those at Friday’s session at the airport was Evie Maravilla, a first-grader at Kings Beach Elementary.
“It’s fun because I like science,” she said, while at a dinosaur skeleton building station.
For Amy Meierotto, a first-grade Kings Beach Elementary teacher, it was a chance for her students to correlate what they’re learning in the classroom with tangible examples.
“We don’t have this kind of material in our classroom, so just to have it here is a huge opportunity for them,” she said.
Several items, ranging from mini microscopes to animal prints and bones, were on display for the children to observe, touch and test.
“My No. 1 goal is not to have them remember any science facts, but have them remember that when they were exploring scientific ideas and they were having time to explore on their own, they were having a good time,” said Ian Sterry, outreach educator for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.
Throughout hangar A-9 at the 9 a.m. Friday session, smiling, inquisitive children worked together to solve puzzles and brain teasers.
“I think science is everywhere, and we can use science as a tool to engage kids in so many different kinds of subjects,” Sterry said. “We can have kids learn about team work skills. We can have kids learn about how to be a self-engaged learner through this kind of activity. We can have kids learn about how to be creative.”
The two-day event marked the third year KidZone has offered a science festival at the airport. For the first two festivals, Lawrence Hall of Science of Berkley, Calif., served as the science exhibitor.
The event is funded by a three-year, $50,000 annual grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.