Children gathered in the Gering Public Library on Thursday, June 16, to learn all about the power of sound waves. The event was hosted by representatives from the Edgerton Explorit Center in Aurora, Nebraska, and was a featured part of the library’s youth summer reading program.
Nicole Havlik, an educator from the center, presented the activities to children. Explorit Center volunteer Journey Noyes assisted with the set-up, clean-up and overall supervision. Around 20 children and their parents or guardians attended the event.
“Sometimes we think science has to be this bigger thing, but there’s a lot of simple, fun things that we can do,” Havlik said. She added that the goal of such traveling programs is to have kids “… be able to experiment, try new things and learn science along the way.”
Havlik provided both experiments for the kids to view and activities for them to participate in. All of them revolved around sound in one form or another.
She taught the attendees about how tuning forks are used and how sound waves go through peaks and troughs. She put a bell in a jar and vacuumed out the air to demonstrate how sound requires air to function.
People are also reading…
She even used a Rubens’ tube to light flames in a row and play noise which caused them to flicker or dim with varying intensity based on the sound waves impacting them.
Havlik also taught the children about how ear hairs react to loud noise, and how this can contribute to a loss in hearing.
“As the human body does, it will naturally fix itself by vibrating until it stands up straight again,” she said. “… If you listen to a lot of noise … eventually those ear hairs will be unable to vibrate, stand up straight, and they will break. When that happens, we begin to experience hearing loss.”
Havlik encouraged the children to turn down their music and to wear ear protection near loud noises to protect against early hearing loss.
To conclude the demonstration, Havlik presented three activities the children could do on their own. They built model sound waves out of tape, toothpicks and gum drops; created their own waves in jars with oil and water; and put washers in balloons and spun them around to demonstrate how sound travels.
“Whether there are a few (waves) and big, or whether there are many (waves) and little, these are different sounds,” Havlik told the group.
Kira Perez, the library’s youth services librarian, said she liked seeing the children try out different hands-on experiments.
“They seemed to really enjoy it,” she said.
Though she has worked at the library for two years, Perez only became the youth services librarian in late May. The visit from the Explorit Center’s ‘mad scientists’ had been planned well in advance of that as part of the library’s summer reading program for kids.
“Each year, we try to find people to come that fit the theme, and this year is ‘Oceans of Possibilities,’” Perez said. “With the wave theme it fit into that.”
Additional presentations this year were hosted by the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies and the Wildcat Hills State Recreation Area.
Each June, the library hosts free events for different ages of children revolving around their chosen theme. The children’s summer reading program concludes with a party on June 29; there is an adult reading program as well.
Though not at the library, the Explorit Center previously hosted events in the Scottsbluff region during the solar eclipse of 2017.
The museum is named in honor of Harold “Doc” Edgerton, a scientist and researcher who grew up in Aurora. The museum features hands-on exhibits and live teaching demonstrations similar to Thursday’s presentation in Gering.
“Now we take it on the road all across Nebraska,” Havlik said.