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Jacy and Quinn Gonzales work on an experiment at the Annual Science Fair, Nov. 2. (Photo by Chris Frost)
Thursday, November 8, 2018

By Chris Frost



Oxnard-- A huge crowd filled Rio Vista Middle School grounds, Nov. 3, as the Annual Science Fair brought scores of children and their parents out to be amazed and inspired by all the experiments offered.

The event was co-sponsored by California State University Channel Islands and the Ventura County Stem Network who worked together to make the event a success.

Attendees were welcomed by the California State University Channel Islands Young Scientist Program, which member Evan House said allows kids to come in, put on a lab coat, and go behind the booths with their Willy Wonka aesthetic ticket.

“This is our first year,” he said. “We’ve been working with a class at California State University Channel Islands and collaborated with Phil Hampton, the event coordinator and came together for this idea.”

There are tons of people coming to meet them, he said, and the outlook for next year looks good.

“We have 118 different booths they can choose from, and at those booths, they get to do experiments,” he said. “The young scientists make the science happen. Any time we can inspire the younger generation to think of themselves as a scientist, or someone with a white coat or higher using their brain we are for it.”

Program President Megan Kenny-Ferster said the group is doing well at the fair.

“I see myself as the facilitator and help them come up some ideas, how to do a collaboration, and I let them go,” she said. “They are running this on their own, they have done the work, and they are going to transition to the next semester’s class. They are hard-working students.”

She said her husband is a physicist and the couple has been coming to the science fair for the last three years.

“He actually has a laser harp that he built, and he does that here,” she said. “I got really into that, and my research is on collaboration and innovation.”

She called it fate.

“I met Phil (Hampton), and I saw an opportunity for my students to get involved and get some hands-on experience,” Kenny-Ferster said.

Wyeth Clarke had a wound on his arm that was created by someone at the fair and went right for a one-liner.

“My dad nibbled on me,” he joked. “Don’t worry; it’s just fake. I sometimes like scary stuff. It looks pretty scary.”

His father Jack wanted to inspire his son to develop an interest in science.

“The blood (in the fake wound) looks old because there is chocolate powder in it,” Wyeth said.

California State University Channel Islands math major Melissa Treto brought a crowd favorite to the fair, a bin with a cutout on top, plus a smoke machine that fills the container.

“Once it’s filled, you point the bin with the open side to the sky and, and it forms a ring of smoke high in the air,” she said. “The smoke gets trapped, and when you hit it, there is a vortex of smoke that comes through the opening. It’s simple.”

She wanted to volunteer and see all the kids enjoy themselves and looked forward to talking about the display in her science classes after the event.

Theresa Thomsan, preschool teacher at Ventura County Child Development Resources, brought a bumble bee the kids can do anything with.

“The bee will do anything you want it to do,” she said. “We volunteered for this project. This is what I do every day, and I enjoy it. We are recruiting kids for our program. The most important thing for us is to reach the community and have fun.”

Michele and Zoey Johnson thought the science fair is pretty cool. Zoey is a first grader and enjoyed the archeology exhibit.

“She should be whatever she wants to be,” Michele said. “I like to go to museums and admire them. We’re going to check the fair out. We just scratched the surface.”

Professor Colleen Delaney from Cal State University Channel Islands brought a wealth of archeological artifacts to the fair. An artifact is a man-made object.

“We have stone tools from California, shells from Florida, bricks from Germany and a little bit of everything,” she said. “I came to inspire the kids and got interested in archeology when I was in fourth grade going to museum exhibits and the state parks. I decided to do it as a career.”

She loves seeing the kids light up and ask questions about the artifacts.

“We try to encourage creativity and appreciation for the past,” she said. “We have things that range from a hand ax that is one million years old up to a glass bottle from 1954 which was found in the hills above the campus.”

One of the people working the event was Ethan Adler, a sophomore at Adolfo Camarillo High School. He had a long line of students in front of him.

“After a short training, he knows everything, and he is teaching the kids,” Delaney said. “I have known him since he was three years old and is good friends with my son.”

Amgen, a biopharmaceutical company from Thousand Oaks, had a group of enthusiastic volunteers that came to the fair because it is all about science.

“We’re taking tomato juice, which is a liquid, an agar which is a polysaccharide from red algae and turning it into a solid,” Susan Jacques said. “The polysaccharide in the agar provides support, and it’s thickening it like gelatin does.”

Youngster Jacy Gonzales was making big bubbles and having a great time.

“There is carbon dioxide going into a tube, and it makes bubbles, big bubbles,” he said.

Mom Nicolette Gonzales said the family does a lot of science experiments at home and she doesn’t have the variety or ability to show her kids all the different types of experiments.

“He can independently pick his choices of interest,” she said. “Most kids lean toward science. They don’t plan enough of it into a school day.”

Quinn Gonzales said he enjoyed the smoke rings.

“We pumped the bottom,” he said. “We put baking soda in the pumpkins at home, and the bubbles came up slowly.”