Wonders on display at Central Mass. Science Festival
FITCHBURG — Riley Foley looked up in amazement as a remote-controlled robot lifted a yellow box and launched it through the air.
“Woah,” the 4-year-old from Leominster yelled, with a big smile.
The robot, created by Clinton High School students, was on display at the Boys & Girls Club of Fitchburg and Leominster as part of 26 exhibits at the Central Massachusetts Science Festival.
The Clinton students said they plan to bring the robot, which could reach almost to the gymnasium’s basketball hoop, to a competition in Detroit.
The robot is a three-bar linkage lift, but it also has another name.
“Unofficially, (my teammate) calls it Shaquille O’Neal,” said Smeet Patel, one of the creators who was using a remote control to move the machine around the room.
Similar scenes were playing out all around the festival on Saturday.
In one room, Max Weagle and Ken Warchol from the Worcester County Beekeepers explained raising the insects.
Weagle said pesticides and Varroa mites are largely to blame for the recent decline in honey bee populations. However, he said he is hopeful state legislation limiting homeowner use of certain pesticides could ease the issue.
At least one colony was alive and well at the Boys & Girls Club Saturday. On the display table sat a thin box containing about 4,000 live bees.
“I can let them out if you want,” Weagle jokingly offered 10-year-old Michael Kelley of Leominster.
Kelley didn’t waste a moment.
“No, thank you,” he said.
Kelley attended with several family members, including his grandmother, Moria Mill, a biochemist.
Science, she said, is a common topic of conversation in their households.
Volunteer Pavel Loven guided visitors through one of the most popular displays: oobleck. The non-Newtonian fluid, which takes its name from a Dr. Seuss book, acts like fluid when left undisturbed, but a solid when stressed.
Balls of the substance, a simple mixture of corn starch and water, bounced on vibrating speakers as Loven welcomed visitors.
“Please, make a mess,” he said.
Sofia Hanerstein, 8, tried to shape the substance as it vibrated. Her mother, Suzanne Hanerstein, said the event offered a good opportunity for the children in attendance.
“I think it’s important to encourage girls to become interested in science,” she said, later adding: “It just encourages children’s natural interest.”