Berkshire Museum teaches kids to break the rules


Photo Gallery | Science Night at Berkshire Museum

PITTSFIELD — It was a night for breaking rules at Berkshire Museum.

"You don't usually get to throw eggs and build towers at a museum," said museum School and Teacher Program Specialist Johanna Batman.

But that's exactly what everyone was doing at annual Science Night on Friday, where kids and parents by the hundred swarmed the halls.

"Kids are naturally curious," Batman said. "They want to learn. It's just a matter of supporting the natural inclination."

And what better way than to set a crane 30 feet high and challenge the kids to design a way so that eggs dropped from the top wouldn't break? Various kinds of cushions and parachutes were made, but the runny yolks dripping all over the landing pad attested to a solid maxim of science: mistakes are a key to learning.

A great cheer went up as the countdown for each drop progressed, and became even louder if eggs were successfully preserved.

Elsewhere, as the museum's Director of Communications Lesley Ann Beck pointed out, "The slime is very popular."

Museum volunteers mixed glue and borax to make a simple polymer, which then got handed over in baggies to eager hands.

"It's completely non-toxic and super fun to play with," Craig Langlois, Director of Education and Public Programs at the museum said.

Other activities saw children building structures out of giant foam blocks, programming simple code into wheeled robots to spur them into activity, engineering small structures on a tilt table with the goal of having them withstand shock, playing with colored lights and more.

"We want them to feel inspired, to feel that science and engineering are approachable," Langlois said. "We think about what's going to have a lasting impact, bigger than what they can do at home."


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