Electricity exhibit inspires young scientists

By Linh Ngo
Correspondent 

The Sarnoff Collection hosted “It’s Electrifying!, a hands-on electricity demonstration for children ages 6 to 10 in Roscoe West Hall on Sunday, Sept. 2. The event showcased the presence of electricity in everyday objects in an effort to foster an early interest in science among children.

Participants learn about static electricity. (Miguel Gonzalez / News Editor)

Young kids hoped from station to station, eager to get involved in all of the scientific experiments. Among these children was a third grader, Adeline, who came with her mom, best friend and brother. Adeline showed a particular interest in the activities and participated in every aspect of the exhibit. She said that her favorite part was being able to do the science experiments herself.

“Adeline loves the sciences and really wanted to participate after we saw this program in the local paper, The Ewing Observer,” her mom said.

The demonstration featured a long table filled with gadgets and electrical tools. One station presented the simplicity of static electricity — with a simple balloon and a piece of steel wool, kids were able to move aluminum cans without touching them.

Another activity showed how to create an electromagnetic motor with simple objects —   copper wire, a battery and magnets. An adult volunteer explained to the kids how electricity requires “work” to exist, which he demonstrated by using a hand crank to turn on a light bulb.

Another young student, Matt, was enthusiastic throughout all the demonstrations. Matt said that science is his favorite school subject and he hopes to hold a career in the sciences one day.

Jonathan Allen, who has a background in electronics with a PhD in physics, has been volunteering with the Sarnoff collection for the last five years, restoring electronics and documenting artifacts. Although It’s Electrifying! was a one-time event, Allen hopes it will become recurring with enough local interest. He also hopes to expand the event to include even more activities for the kids.

Allen said that the goal of the event is to “simply increase the interest of youngsters in the theory of electricity and to build curiosity about how the world works.”

He is also one of the judges at a local community science fair and wishes to increase the number of student participants.

It’s Electrifying! was not only an opportunity for local children to learn about the role of electricity in everyday life, but also a chance for parents to take their children’s eyes away from the front of an electrical screen and place them behind the scenes for a change.