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Hundreds attend the second annual South Shore Science Festival at the Quincy Center for Innovation

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April 24, 2016
Hundreds attend the second annual South Shore Science Festival at the Quincy Center for Innovation
By Maxim Tamarov
Quincy Posted Apr. 23, 2016 at 5:02 pm
Updated Apr 23, 2016 at 5:13 PM

QUINCY – Trista Lee played Mary Had a Little Lamb on her tuba. But it was no regular tuba. A science experiment turned musical instrument, constructed entirely out of PVC pipe, she and her partner had built the instrument for their sixth grade science fair. Lee was one of many middle school children – as well as adults in the industry – demonstrating their projects to younger kids and their families in an effort to instill a passion for science. The second annual South Shore Science Festival, an offshoot of the decade-old celebration in Cambridge, was held on Saturday, April 23, at the Quincy Innovation Center. About 400 people came to explore exhibits spread across the three floors of the Eastern Nazarene College building.

Most of the featured exhibits were hands-on. There were telescopes and microscopes; deer skulls and theremins; granite quarry materials and earthquake simulations; and lectures about global warming and coding.

“The purpose of this [festival] is to get the kids to love science and technology by learning the fun side of it,” Manuel Barroso, executive partner for Positive Business Consulting Services, said. “When they come out of here, they’re eager to go on to science, technology and inventions.”

Barroso is one of the four founding members of the South Shore Science organization, along with Kathy Dullea Hogan of Gateway to Science, Eric Braun of 30hands Learning and Parna Sarkar-Basu of Kaminario. They were united in wanting to foster the next generation of innovators. This year, the founders decided to engage their audience by bringing in kids from grades five through eight to demonstrate science projects to the younger attendees.

Lee, 12, of Quincy, demonstrated the effects of changing length on the pitch and musicality of the instrument, and the scientific process by which she arrived at the final product.

“We tried different lengths and diameters of PVC pipes to produce the most accurate bass trombone,” Lee said. She and her partner wanted to produce a cheaper, more durable and lighter instrument. “We did five trials, three trials being the shorter trombone and two trials being the longer one. We tested them in two inch increments on the slide.”

But Lee didn’t only present – she admired other projects as well. Her classmate at Central Middle School, Nandan Nair, 11, compared three types of vinegar to see which would inflate the largest balloon when combined with baking soda in a water bottle.

“You put vinegar in a bottle and you put baking soda in a balloon,”

Nair said. “It follows something called a neutralization reaction.” Nair spoke with fluency and depth about the chemical process involved in his project. He said that he had to overcome a nervousness of presenting to people, but this did not show.

“I really liked how you had real scientists explaining and you also had children showing their work,” Jennifer Castillo, of Quincy, said. She was especially fond of Nair’s demonstration. “That can be a model and example for the children visiting.”

Castillo was with her husband Elmer and three kids: Josue, 6, Eva, 4, and newborn Gabriel. Josue said the coolest exhibit he saw was an hourglass with a magnet and iron shavings that spiked out like a hedgehog when the figure was flipped. His sister and father spent a while trying to communicate with each other using a cup and string phone. “Authentic is the word that comes to mind for this experience,” Jennifer Castillo said. Lee also liked an exhibit comparing the effects of changing the diameter of a parachute on the speed of its fall. She would come back next year, she said, with a new project to show. Maxim Tamarov may be reached at mtamarov@ledger.com.
Maxim Tamarov