Children interacted with animals, collected rocks, pretended to be TV meteorologists, played with robots and made slime all in the name of education on Saturday at USC Aiken for the 27th annual Science Education Enrichment Day, sponsored by the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center and Aiken County Public Schools.
One of the many stops the Martins made was at the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy booth, where 5-year-old Thaddaeus needed his dad, Jason, to lift him up so he could get a better look at the microorganisms through one of the microscopes.
“We went to the one in Charleston, and they didn’t have as much,” said Amanda Martin. “We’ve really enjoyed it. We are just running around from place to place.”
The Martins said that, so far, they have seen rocks, fossils, airplane gliders and deer footprints.
“I enjoyed making slimes,” said 6-year-old Silas Martin.
The boys also made pentagons using toothpicks and gumdrops, and Thaddaeus learned how many sides a pentagon has.
The core of the event was to teach about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, so people might not have expected a bit of history to be present but thanks to Aiken County Emergency Management Amateur Radio Communications with its layout of keys, or devices used for Morse code, it was.
“People were doing texting before texting was cool, except it was with Morse code,” said Kent Hufford, emergency management volunteer and club member.
At this table, the participants were able to spell their names in Morse code and receive a certificate after they conquered the task.
The group also showcased a device that processed in a computer-to-computer mode through radio. They, and the North Augusta Belvedere Radio Club, wanted to show the community what amateur radio and the group were all about.
All the animals were handled with care, and Raleigh, a barred owl from Raleigh, N.C., was no exception.
Raleigh was under the care of Cassandra Luttrull, a junior special education major at USCA. After an unfortunate accident, Raleigh is unable to fly.
“His left wing won’t extend fully. We think he was hit by a car,” she said.
Curious children popped up, wanting to hold and know more about him.
“I’m only letting them pet him,” she said. “We want to get the message across they are still wild animals.”
Children had the option to get a trivia question answered from certain booths, possibly for the extra credit from their teachers.
Millbrook Elementary School student Patrick Sanders, for example, went up to Brook and Ron Reed of Rainbows Custom Tie Dye to ask, “What is the rainbow’s name?”
Brook Reed promptly replied with a grade-school classic, Roy G. Biv, or red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
The Reeds have been involved with the event for five years.
“It’s well-organized. The children are very interactive,” Brook Reed said. “Science, it’s part of life. It’s awesome.”
With the cell-reactive dye, the colors never fade, she said, pointing to a 15-year-old banner.
“It’s what people use to dye clothes,” she said.
More than 60 exhibitors participated in the event including M’Aiken Magic, Fort Gordon Military Vehicle, S.C. Aquarium, DuPont Planetarium and SRNL Glassblowing. Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, SRP Federal Credit Union, Maxwell Law Firm and Aiken Electric Cooperative were some of the sponsors.