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Science is wild at the fair

March 07, 2002|By JENNIFER RALTON-SMITH

Staff Writer

Things were definitely wild at the Wild Science interactive science display at the Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta on Wednesday night.

First, there were squishy bugs — Madagascar hissing cockroaches to be exact. Then there was the inquisitive ball python and his friends, a couple fairly well-behaved geckoes. A clutch of bearded dragon lizards lurked in the background.

"He was slimy," was 10-year-old Karelly Hernandez's verdict about her hands-on meeting with one of the geckoes.

Karelly, who lives in Heber, said she was not sure if she would really want to have a gecko as a pet. A doubtful "maybe" was her final word on the subject.

When Lauren Schilt, who works with the exhibition's organizers, Imagination Galleries of Rancho Cucamonga, asked for a member of the audience to come up onto the stage and hold the python, Cristina Huerta, another 10-year-old from Heber, only hesitated for a second before volunteering her services.

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Cristina, who afterward confided she'd never held a snake before, appeared a little concerned when the python in her hands subjected her to a lengthy stare at close quarters.

"I thought he was going to bite me," Cristina said with a thoughtful expression as she watched the python being put back in its cage.

Giving the critters a rest for a moment, Schilt introduced her audience of youngsters to a huge bubble-making device.

It wasn't all bugs, bubbles and bites at the science exhibition. There was a plethora of electronic, electric and mechanical gadgets to amuse and intrigue kids of all ages.

Predictably, an exhibit with the intriguing name Velocity Tunnel had a large group of boys lining up eager to try pitching a ball down a long tunnel in an attempt to beat the pitching speed record, which stood at 100.9 mph. according to the sign posted nearby.

It was apparent from the disappointed expressions and exasperated groans from the youthful pitchers that the record was in no danger of being broken anytime soon.

And it wasn't only children intrigued and enthralled by the exhibits.

"I really like this," was the word from Martha Ramos of El Centro as stood with her hand outstretched over the "captured lightning" sphere.

Moving her hand slowly over the sphere and watching as the lightening seemingly followed her hand, Ramos said she had seen a similar device recently on a cable shopping channel and giggling, conceded that she had "nearly been tempted to buy it."

Readying her cache of critters for their next showing on the half hour, Schilt said, "This is all fun stuff. Our aim is to make kids excited about science — we want them to enjoy science."

>> Staff Writer Jennifer Ralton-Smith can be reached at 337-3442 or dingo87@earthlink.net

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