With blow-up planets, an assortment of activities and a short presentation, the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History taught youth in the area about space, Earth and our place in the universe.
Glendale, Roseburg and Sutherlin were among the 102 Oregon libraries that the museum’s traveling outreach program will visit this summer. For the past four years, the museum has built presentations coinciding with the theme of the Collaborative Summer Library Program. This year’s theme is “A Universe of Stories.”
“Since this year’s theme is space, we geared it towards space but also we are a natural history museum and we wanted to bring it back to why Earth is such a special planet,” said presenter Alexandria Roullier said.
“Our Place in Space” is an exploration of how Earth fits in among stars, galaxies and other planets. Roullier’s presentation taught a little about each of the eight planets in the solar system as well as addressed what makes Earth so different from other planets.
Titus Jacobs, 10, was eager to volunteer during the Roseburg presentation, zooming to each planet in his special space suit and laminated rocket. His favorite planet is Mars.
“I thought of a special way to get to Mars,” Titus said. “We could build a rocket that could go 200,000 miles per hour!”
Titus said he is already working on a rocket that will take him to Mars in the next year.
Titus also said he didn’t know that Jupiter acted as a shield for Earth, while his 7-year-old brother Liam said he learned other planets didn’t have oxygen.
Accompanying the presentation was a variety of science experiments and hands-on activities. Guests raced the clock, and each other, to see who could remove the most trash from a pool filled with plastic bags, cups, straws and stuffed sea life.
Another station allowed children to pull sticks labeled with different animals and plants from a mesh cylinder. Held up by the sticks were balls shaped like the Earth. Each time a stick was removed, the balls fell. The idea was to show how interwoven everything on Earth is and how the loss of biodiversity hurts everyone.
“Most experiments/demonstrations had to do with what we can do to help save the resources on our planet, which I feel is very important,” Glendale Community Library Director Betsie Aman said. “Hopefully the takeaway from this presentation is to see that we have many renewable resources that can be explored and implemented, and some ways that we can save the environment by the conservation of these resources.”
Other stations showed the difference between renewable and non-renewable energy, gravity, water, fossil fuels and recycling.
“Every station and all the lessons we teach had something to teach every level of kid,” Roullier said. “It’s a good, broad representation of what we should be thinking about and hopefully planting that seed in kids to be more thoughtful humans on our Earth.”
For the Sutherlin Library, the presentation marked the end of its Summer Reading Program.
“The children and their parents had a great time interacting together working at the various stations,” Sutherlin children’s librarian Nancy Anderson said. “The library presented each child with a book that reflected the summer’s reading theme.”
Roullier said she hopes each attendee learns that their actions matter.
“Small actions, positive or negative, have an accumulative effect,” Roullier said. “Even you, as a kid or a parent or whoever you are in this world, your actions have an impact.”
With their fantasy clay creatures from the day before drying on a table near by, campers ranging in age from 7 to 14 diligently drew and painted royal portraits as part of the Umpqua Valley Arts Association’s Summer Kids Camp.
Last week was the seventh week of art camps offered by the association. Every week boasted its own theme, such as Monster Mash, Around the World, Color Club, Pet Parade and last week’s Our Enchanted Forest.
“The themes provide a nice opportunity to encapsulate things, but the art instructors get the opportunity to really teach art-making skills,” UVAA Executive Director Jeneen Hartley said. “Kids leave here knowing more about making art and about art itself.”
During last week’s Enchanted Forest camp, campers designed their own enchanted forest tunnel book, learned printmaking using a gelatin plate, created a wire tree sculpture and used recycled materials to create a collage of fantasy creatures. But they also learned about art history, exploring art styles from artists, such as Brian Froud and Emily Carr.
“They really retain it,” said Arts in Education Director Renée Richardson. “They even bring me things that they have made or they mention it to parents like ‘I just learned about Emily Carr,’ and you can hear them talking to the car about this woman who saved the totem poles and things like that.”
Camps are offered in one-week increments for eight weeks, except for fair week. Campers can go in the morning, afternoon or both. Classes are capped at 15 students and are open to kids ages 7-14.
“It’s a really great introduction to art, which they don’t get in the public schools,” Richardson said.
Teachers are all artists from the community. Each gets their own session, with some days having as many as four instructors. Our Enchanted Forest was instructor Cheryl Stokes’s third week teaching this summer. Stokes has always wanted to be a teacher; her life took her on a different path, but she still finds ways to share what she knows and to learn along with her students.
“In learning how to teach the class, I get to study new techniques and try them at home myself, which I love,” Stokes said. “I may spend 100 hours preparing for this class, in studying and practicing.”
Twelve-year-old Esme Maritz, of Roseburg, spent the first part of Thursday working on a creature she named Darcy Quidd.
“I made this character named Darcy and it’s a cute little happy goblin. I made him yesterday with the mushroom house; I decided I would make a little goblin that lived in the house,” Esmé said. “I drew him and cut him out and tapped him to the side of the house.”
Esme has been a regular at past art camps, but “Our Enchanted Forest,” was the first class she took this summer. Camp has a sentimental attachment for Esme since that is where she met her best friend. She enjoys painting, drawing and designing most.
“Imagination is huge in our summer programs,” Richardson said. “They want you to feel comfortable with a blank piece of paper and whatever you put on it is great.
Sara Monger, 11, of Tenmile, has attended every week this summer, though she could not decide on a favorite theme. Making the mushroom houses was her favorite project while learning about double loading a paint brush was her favorite lesson.
Mushroom houses and making paper curls using scissors or a pencil was 7-year-old Olivia Taute’s favorite part. She came to camp to learn more about art in general.
“I used to get upset when I got something wrong in art,” Olivia said. “But then we decided to come here to learn how to make more art better.”
Above all, Stokes wants the campers to be creative and learn the techniques.
“My goal is for them to learn new techniques, try new things and have a love of art and be able to do it later,” Stokes said. “I don’t want to have cookie-cutter art, you want them to express themselves, but you also want them to try the techniques.”
Work on a Umpqua Valley Habitat for Humanity home in Roseburg has been put on hold until more money can be raised.
The home, planned for a lot on West Broccoli Street in Roseburg, was originally meant for Myles Wright and his mother, Theresa Remiro. Wright succumbed to leukemia a few months ago. On top of that tragedy, Remiro’s other son, Asa, 20, was just diagnosed with cancer.
Now, the organization is trying to raise approximately $60,000 in the next three months. Raising at least $10,000 would allow work to continue on the home that has already begun.
The former derelict home has been demolished and site prep work has been done. The next step is for carpentry work to start.
“We have purchased the property, we’ve prepared the site and done the demolition there, and we’ve got our brand new foundation poured,” said Robin Hartmann, executive director of UVHH.
Until more money comes in, work on the house has come to a halt.
“We do fundraising all the time requesting grant funding because it takes a lot of materials and a lot of subcontractors to help us with our electrical and plumbing and everything else,” Hartmann said.
Habitat pays for all housing costs in advance while requiring the family will put in 500 hours of sweat equity and pay an affordable mortgage over a 30-year-period, to pay back those up front costs. The family will own the home when the 0% interest mortgage is paid off.
“We’re hopeful we can bring on a sponsor but we can’t really stop our work. We just have to keep positive and keep requesting funding so that we can take advantage of these next three or four months while the weather is good.”
Wright’s dream was for his mother to have a decent home in which to live for the rest of her life. The project is still going on for Remiro to live there, and Habitat for Humanity members are trying to raise the money during August and September to assure that they can stay on schedule and take advantage of the good weather and a large number of volunteers who are helping with the project.
Hartmann is optimistic that the volunteers will have the house framed and the exterior complete before the rains come this fall.
“Our best scenario would be to have the house completed by the end of the year so Theresa can move in and enjoy the holidays in her new home, that’s kind of our goal,” Hartmann said.
A GoFundMe page has been started, which has already raised about $3,500 as of Wednesday toward their immediate goal.
Remiro is enrolled in the Dreamsaver program through NeighborWorks Umpqua to build up a savings account for her closing costs.
Habitat for Humanity builds houses with the donations and volunteer assistance and sweat equity from the people who will live there and they rely totally on donations, either money or in kind services.
Hartmann says there is plenty of room for volunteers no matter what skills you have.
For information on volunteering or donating to Habitat for Humanity call 541-672-6182 or email RobinHartmann@msn.com.