Note: This article originally appeared in the Oct. 16, 2013, edition of the East Oregonian and was written by reporter George Plaven, with photos by EJ Harris.
All Ian Sterry needs to teach the basics of electricity is a balloon, which he rubbed against his hair to excite negatively charged electrons and create static cling.
But the sixth-graders at Sunridge Middle School already knew that trick. They were more interested in the large magnets, model turbine and miniature Tesla coil used to demonstrate more dramatically how and why electricity works.
Sterry, outreach educator with the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, invited students on stage to help with experiments Wednesday as part of a special “Electrifying Science” assembly at the School Commons. Among the sparks and other hair-raising activities, kids learned to differentiate between electrical currents and saw how electricity is generated by renewable sources such as sun, wind and water.
“We may even make some things explode by the end of the day, if all goes well,” Sterry said to a roar of excitement.
OMSI is spending the week traveling to schools across Eastern Oregon, where educators hope to get young students excited about science. Sterry will visit Stanfield Elementary and Sandstone Middle School in Hermiston Thursday, before finishing his tour of the area Friday at McNary Heights Elementary in Umatilla.