YOUNGSTOWN — Perhaps Emma Clarke derived as much enjoyment from connecting a pair of tiny wires as she did reconnecting with her grandmother.
“There’s these little wires you heat up, and when you put them under the table, it lights up,” Emma, 9, of Wakeman, said.
Emma was referring to an observation she made while taking part in a micro-electronics experiment in which she learned the basics of safely using a very hot soldering iron to solder a pair of small metal wires.
The foray into her introduction to such patchwork also coincided with a weekend reconnection and visit with her grandmother, Barbara Clarke of New Waterford.
Grandmother and granddaughter were among the children and adults who came to Saturday’s gala to celebrate the 12th anniversary of OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology, 11 W. Federal St., downtown.
The six-hour funfest featured a slew of hands-on, interactive activities, games and exhibits for people of all ages.
Barbara Clarke seemed to have as much fun as her granddaughter, as the two of them collaborated to solder wires and create a glow-in-the-dark piece shaped like an insect.
“She loves coming here,” Clarke said about Emma.
Conducting one of the micro-electronics experiments, both of which were for children age 9 and older, was Sarafina Brozman, who has worked about a year at the center.
A primary benefit of soldering is that it closes and completes electrical circuits while allowing for the repair of specific parts to many items that rely on electricity. A small fix can be made to a lamp, for example, without having to get rid of it, Brozman explained.
Soldering has built-in flexibility and results in quick necessary melting, because an iron can reach temperatures between 600 and 700 degrees, she noted.
While conducting a demonstration, Brozman had the attention of Mason Bridge, 9, and his sister, Vanessa Bridge, 10, of Sharon, Pa.
“Technically, soldering is really, really hot. It’s very fun and worth it,” Vanessa observed as she was in the process of creating a metal “insect” that would glow in the dark in her bedroom.
Also appreciative of the numerous hands-on activities was Vanessa and Mason’s mother, Kim Bridge, who said she heard about the celebratory gala on Facebook.
Shortly after successfully making their metal “insects,” the two siblings decided to reach a little higher via challenging themselves to an 8-foot rock wall that also could slowly turn while being used. Starting in the middle was a good scientific strategy because doing so would give the climber more stability, Vanessa observed.
Another such activity was a “puff ball launch” in which participants used common tubes with balloons on the edges and secured with duct tape to make “sling shots” that fired balls of varying sizes made from cotton.
Overseeing that activity was Amy Mikulich, who began working at OH WOW! in June 2022.
“(The experiment) goes over potential and kinetic energy,” Mikulich explained about its scientific value. “The force pulling the balloon back is potential energy, but once the puff ball is launched, that’s kinetic energy.”
In part because it relies on everyday items, the experiments can be safely done at home.
“It’s very easy; it’s DIY,” Mikulich continued.
The family-friendly celebration also featured a photo booth for children and adults, as well as Hot Wheels car drag races on tracks. In addition, children and adults enjoyed a black out dance in which many of them wore glow necklaces and danced to popular tunes such as the “Cha Cha Slide,” “The Best Day Ever,” from SpongeBob SquarePants, and the Justin Timberlake hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”
During its 12 years, OH WOW! has educated and entertained nearly 1 million children and adults with its exhibits and activities rooted in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Saturday’s gathering also was to celebrate the center’s mission and future.