LEWISBORO, N.Y. For two hours last week at the Lewisboro Library, a group of young patrons gathered around three large tables and learned what it takes to become the next Colombo.
Leading the group was the white lab-coat clad Rusty Rocket, a mad scientist from Mad Science, a science enrichment provider with franchises located around the world. The organization provides hands-on science experiences for children who are designed to be as entertaining as they are educational.
We will be talking about being detectives and what it is that detectives do to solve crimes, Rusty told the children.
While alternating between his own voice and that of Sponge Bob Square Pants, Rustys animated demeanor kept the children engaged and focused on the tasks he took them through.
Weve used him before and really engages the kids, said Cathy Lim, childrens librarian. This is one of our most popular programs it always fills up.
In an exercise to illustrate the uniqueness of fingerprints, Rusty Rocket passed out balloons along with colored markers and had the kids use the markers to color one of their thumbs.
Then I want you to press your thumb down on the balloons like this, he said. It will go pfffffftttt .
Rusty then had the children inflate the balloons, which enlarged the fingerprints the children had made. He explained the difference between the types of fingerprints arch, loop and whorl and had his fledgling detectives figure out which type they had.
Another exercise involved having the children set up dollhouse furniture on a board to resemble a crime scene and then letting the kids at the adjoining table try to figure out what happened based on how the furniture was displayed.
Its really not easy, Rusty told the kids. You wouldnt know it from watching crime shows on TV, but some cases take years and years to figure out.
The final exercise saw Rusty hand out a box to each table. He informed the kids that each box either contained a tennis ball, a golf ball, a cotton ball, a Whiffle ball or a marble. They were charged with trying to figure out what was inside without opening the box. Every group succeeded in guessing the mystery content of its box.
When the class ended, the kids were each award a prize for their participation.
It was a lot of fun, said second-grader Sean Johnson. I liked doing the balloon thing with the fingerprints best.
Fifth-grader Jack McMachon, who is also a member of the librarys LEGOs Club, said his favorite part was creating a crime scene with the miniature furniture.
I liked the detective part of that and looking for clues, he said.
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