Project iLaser visited with Valley children at the Boys and Girls Club of El Centro on Thursday and Brawley on Wednesday. The project by Southwestern College chemistry professor Dave Brown is part of the international year of chemistry.
The program to teach about powering the planet with solar energy reached about 100 children in the two days in Imperial County, Brown said. He added that he couldn’t have asked for a more enthusiastic group.
Brown will continue the project, working along the border with kids in some of the sunniest areas in the nation, he said. The project also reaches some of the poorer areas of the country.
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“It’s really a perfect storm of reasons the National Science Foundation decided to fund this project,” he said.
Bringing the hands-on projects to groups so young is also very rewarding, he said. The tweens and pretweens are really curious and get excited when they figure out part of an experiment.
“Those ‘aha’ moments are precious,” he said. “They’re valuable.”
Children, like 11-year-old Alex Montes and 9-year-old Michael Moreno, had those moments Thursday as they built solar cells and explored scientific displays.
There were a lot of things to learn, Alex said. He hopes to bring back the information he learned about solar to his home and maybe set up some type of solar-powered experiment. It will help the environment, he added.
Michael was similarly impressed with the event.
“It’s cool,” he said. “It’s fun.”
There were experiments on display Thursday that he said he had never seen before, like lasers used to play music.
The laser was a favorite as kids kept running back over to the board set up at the First United Methodist Church on Eighth Street in El Centro to block the lasers and stop the music. The display was to show what other information beyond energy could be sent through light.
It was certainly 12-year-old Yasmin Campos’ favorite, she said. However, she thought the whole thing was “cool,” she said.
The Heber resident said she enjoyed the event as she wants to be a scientist when she grows up.
“I’ve always wanted to experiment with things,” Yasmin said.
She added that she’s excited to be taking science classes in the coming future.
Staff Writer Elizabeth Varin can be reached at email@example.com or 760-337-3441.