Kids Learn to Catch Some Air at Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum Exhibit

Posted in: Noozhawk, STEM

Air Pollution Control District-sponsored exhibit uses floor-to-ceiling pneumatic tubes to teach lessons about the movement of air

A young girl waits to catch a yarn ball as air shoots it from the Catching Air exhibit at the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum.
A young girl waits to catch a yarn ball as air shoots it from the Catching Air exhibit at the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

One of the newest exhibits at the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum is proving air can be fun.

“Catching Air,” sponsored by the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District,uses air moving through  a ceiling-high maze of pneumatic tubes to propel scarves and yarn balls that shoot out of designated openings to the delight of youths.

“It’s just so fun to see all the different ages,” said APCD Director Aeron Arlin Genet. “Even adults have fun playing this.”

It’s become so beloved among Discovery Museum visitors that one young girl cried when Catching Air was temporarily turned off Saturday during a special ceremony celebrating the addition of the exhibit.

The girl sobbed, “That’s broken over there,” pointing to the exhibit, before being reassured it was turned off temporarily.

“It definitely is a great display for all of us to have to a better understanding of air and the air we breathe,” Arlin Genet said. “Air quality is a difficult subject to express and to engage especially with children in the world.

“It’s just a really exciting display to see here in Santa Maria,” she added. “We’re very thankful that you have a place for it. “

To celebrate the exhibit, the APCD sponsored free admission for museum visitors on Saturday.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for the Discovery Museum to have such high quality amazing exhibit that is all about our air,” Discovery Museum Executive Director Chris Slaughter said.

“Air is inside of us. It’s outside of us. It’s everywhere. …,” Slaughter said. “Air is the most important thing around us and we want to preserve it and make sure kids understand the importance of protecting our natural resources.”

The exhibit helps children learn about the movement of air, allowing them to choose, move and elevate items through floor-to-ceiling pneumatic tubes at the entrance of the museum.

To help educators teach about air quality, the APCD offers assorted assistance for teachers with information about grant applications, lesson plans and classroom activities available online here.

The Discovery Museum is marking its 20th year as Santa Barbara County’s only children’s museum. In 13,000 square feet, the facility boasts exhibits offering hands-on learning for youths.

Upcoming events include Santa’s Discovery Workshop from noon to 4 p.m. Dec. 18 and the Noon Year Eve party at noon on Dec. 31.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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