Thursday, March 5, 2015

Explorit: The wonder of everyday materials

From page A13 | December 07, 2012 |

By Lisa Justice

On a recent Thursday morning, a class of 20 fifth-graders trooped into a classroom at Explorit Science Center. There were no tables or desks, and only a few chairs in the back for the grown-ups. No lab coats, test tubes, Bunsen burners or any of the trappings commonly associated with a classroom lab.

Yet these fifth-graders had come to participate in one of Explorit’s Inquiry Lab programs. Eager faces expressed mild confusion. How to explore the physics of gravity without sophisticated equipment?

When the Explorit educator welcomed her young scientists and asked them to confirm that they had brought their science tools with them, mild confusion moved toward perplexity. Most students brought only a coat or perhaps a water bottle. But with a little prompting, everyone realized that they were fully equipped with eyes to observe, hands to try things out and brains to analyze. With these core tools accounted for, scientific inquiry could begin.

But what would they observe or try out? Three small desk fans were discovered in the corners of the room, lying face-up on the floor, each with a paper tube reinforced with wire coat hangers around it — homemade wind tunnels! With nothing more than scissors, rulers, pencils, masking tape, scrap paper and a couple of feet of string, these explorers designed and conducted their own gravity experiments testing aircraft designs that would float and not fall in the wind tunnels.

But the real challenge came later in the morning when students were presented with a marble and a section of the classroom wall approximately 2 feet by 4 feet. Within this wall space, they must build a roller coaster for their marble, but it must be the world’s slowest marble roller coaster. The lab team that keeps their marble moving through the roller coaster for the longest amount of time wins! Their construction material included recycled objects like toilet paper tubes, cracker boxes and yogurt cups.

With a couple of rolls of masking tape and a box of things most people would just throw away, these students got to grapple with gravity, experience the forces of friction and air resistance, and learn more about physics in one morning than many children do in a year. They also worked collaboratively in teams like many professional labs and discovered that science doesn’t always require high-powered microscopes or toxic chemicals.

Instead, science is actually happening all around us all the time. We can use the tools we already have at our disposal, plus our innate curiosity and thoughtful questioning, to investigate and discover what makes our world tick.

Get a taste of this down-to-Earth, hands-on type of scientific inquiry with our current exhibition, “Beyond the Table: A Look at Agriculture and You.” Plus, join us Saturday and Sunday to make spaghetti spider webs and learn how spiders construct different types of webs. Participation is free with paid admission to the exhibition.


Coming events:

* Astronomy Club meeting: “Telescopes and Accessories,” 6 p.m. Saturday. We also will look at the stars in the night sky following the main program, weather permitting.

* Legend of the Christmas Tree Spider Workshop: 2 p.m. Saturday Dec. 15. Make a glass-beaded spider while you sip hot cocoa. The fee is $9 per person. Space is limited for this workshop, so visit to reserve your spot.

— Explorit Science Center is at 3141 Fifth St.. For more information, call 530-756-0191, visit or “like” Explorit on Facebook at



Special to The Enterprise

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .


    ‘The Liar’ will have audiences in stitches

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Hibbert Lumber honored as an Owl Wise Leader

    By Felicia Alvarez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Fiesta dinner, auction benefit Chávez School

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    World Language Fair brings nations to Davis

    By Krystal Lau | From Page: A3

    Get crackin’ for Yolo Crisis Nursery

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Taizé service set Friday at DCC

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Climate Lobby will meet March 11

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Be featured in Woodland’s water-wise landscape tour

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    UFC speaker series gives ‘A Winemaker’s Journey’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Speaker will illuminate universe’s dark side

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Divorce options covered in Saturday workshop

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Community forum with police will address hate in Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5



    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6



    DHS boys track team has high aspirations

    By Dylan Lee | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Blue Devil boys mash Marauders

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devils’ big inning is the difference in baseball opener

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    DHS golfers dominate Elk Grove

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Davis softball offense explodes for first win

    By Chris Saur | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Youth soccer: Barker lights it up for Blue Thunder

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Youth roundup: U15 Knights rout El Dorado Hills

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Sports briefs: DHS swimmers speed past Herd

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B8





    Hear EZ Street Saturday at winery

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

    UC Davis bands perform on March 11

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A7

    Wealth of Nations plays Saturday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    ‘Witness for the Prosecution’ to be screened Sunday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

    Resler releases memoir, ‘The Last Protégée’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    Athens Guitar Duo to perform at Davis Arts Center

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8







    Comics: Thursday, March 5, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: B6