Experimenting with interest

When 5-year-old Travis McDonald stood up, his chin barely made it over the black countertops of the chemistry lab, and he had to reach his arms all the way up to work on a science experiment.

Travis chewed gum as he mixed glue with borax, covering his hands in the sticky blue-and-white mixture that was becoming slime. He rolled the gooey substance into a ball and bounced his creation.

"It feels like cake," he said.

Travis made his own Chem Putty at Polymer Playtime, one of about two dozen science classes for kids Friday evening at the second annual Science Showtime at Golden West College. The event, co-hosted by the college and the Huntington Beach Rotary Club, was a chance for children to see science and math used in a fun way, said Dale Dunn, the Rotary public relations chairman.

"These [classes] are all designed to be fun things for kids," he said.

Students could see a real human brain and learn the different functions of the body; discover how to take blood pressure and what the numbers mean; see a volcano blow its top with baking soda and vinegar; and try to keep an airplane in flight the longest during a paper airplane contest.

Science Showtime was started last year in an attempt to spark fifth- and sixth-graders' interest in the subjects, Dunn said. But all kids were invited to the event.

The Rotary recognized that students weren't enrolling in math, science, engineering and technology classes because they saw them as the "tough" classes, Dunn said.

Fifth and sixth grade was decided to be the best time to try and pique the kids' interest as they were just beginning to get involved in picking their own classes, he said.

Travis, although not yet in fifth or sixth grade, said he already likes math and science "because you could play with it."

His grandmother, Sonia James, who brought Travis along with three other children, said she wants them to realize the importance of not only math and science, but education overall.

"I think it's important for them to know that school is important," she said.

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