From “Einstein Project Science Expo offers hands-on science experience” —  ASHWAUBENON — The Einstein Project Science Expo Saturday at Shopko Hall was electric with excitement.

OK, bad pun, but an accurate description when you get thousands of kids and their parents around everything that makes the world work and let them touch, turn and twist their way through dozens of exhibits.

They ranged from the simple to the complex: Alan Pesche, director of Barlow Planetarium in Menasha, using a torch to make a garbage bag float like a hot-air balloon to The Dream Flight U.S.A. “Spirit of Education” bus.

In the Wisconsin Public Service Corp. corner of the hall, Ethan Koch, 9, of Peshtigo Elementary School was riding a stationary bike, lighting up bulbs on a control board as the resistance was turned higher and the peddling got harder.

“It was pretty good at first,” said Koch, who called himself “a pretty good fan of science.”

He won his school’s science fair last year, Koch said, and leans toward meteorology as his favorite science.

No Wisconsin event would be complete without cheese, and the Schreiber Foods booth, where they were making string cheese, had long lines.

Cassidy Eckstein and Madyson Tritt, both 11 and both of Omro Elementary School, were among six students brought to the event by fifth-grade teacher Sherrie Mikkelson.

“The kids are pretty interested in the hands-on things,” Mikkelson said.

Eckstein was interested in how string cheese is made, but said getting her hair frizzed by a Van De Graaff static electricity generator was the highlight of her day.

Tritt was less discriminating, declaring “everything” her favorite.

Collin Jepsen, 10, of Wrightstown Elementary School enjoyed having a snake draped over his shoulders.

“It was six feet long. This other kid had to hold one end of it because it was moving all over the place,” he said.

Kids were making ice cream by shaking plastic storage containers, launching air-powered rockets, painting pictures with their eyes, making paper, gazing through telescopes and having fun with liquid nitrogen. And there was a lot more than that.

Julie Paavola, executive director of The Einstein Project, expected about 4,000 people at the expo, equal to last year’s attendance. Paavola was pleased to hear one parent’s observation that exhibits were getting better each year.

She said businesses have bought into the event more and more over the years.

“They are realizing we all need to be thinking about our future work force and where the employees are going to come from,” she said. “A lot of employers need science. They need employees to be smart. Brainpower is driving so much of today’s industry.”

Paavola said the point of the expo and its broad range of exhibits is that “science is all around us.”

And inside us, too.

A Northeast Wisconsin Technical College booth on microbiology included jars containing various intestinal parasites.

Ryan Schultz, 9, of Anne Sullivan Elementary School in Green Bay described the roundworms and flatworms and pinworms as nasty, but smiled when he said it.

Snakes were another matter. He owns a ball python and was happy to handle the other snakes at the expo. He said he’d like to see what the inside of a snake looks like, but not if it had to be dissected.

When Angelo Kolokithas, microbiology instructor at NWTC, offered to let Schultz and his sister, Erin, also 9, look at slides of bacteria in their mouths, they were quick to grab swabs.

When he asked, “You guys brush your teeth today? Am I going to see a lot of bacteria?” Ryan pointed confidently toward his sister and said “In hers!”

Two minutes later, after they’d seen their swabbings through a microscope, it was Erin who was smiling.

“I had less than his.”

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