The idea behind Wild Planet Day is to mix science and fun for children and their families. With that in mind, it has both hands-on projects and shows. The event has grown every year since since its inception in 2010.
The fourth annual Wild Planet Day will be Saturday from 10a.m. to 3p.m. For the first time, it will be held at the future home of the Great Valley Museum on Modesto Junior Colleges west campus. The previous three were held on the east campus. By moving to the west campus, there will be more events, including several full planetarium shows. Wild Planet Day will mark the first time the planetarium will be open to the public, and with so few of them in Northern and Central California, it is one of the special events of the day, as well as a historic moment.
The science comes from the projects and shows that will run all day. Among the 20 science projects, there will be geocaching finding something via satellite technology building a birdhouse and squid dissection, to name a few. The geology department will have one of its instructors identifying rocks: You bring the rock, the teacher will identify it. Among the shows is Dr. Al Chemist, a.k.a Steve Murov, who will mix chemicals with sometimes explosive results. Not enough to keep the parents away, but more than enough to make the children happy.
There will be a petting zoo, in case you want to re-enact The Beach Boys Pet Sounds album cover. And speaking of animals, there will be a couple of shows with animals that are always popular. Get there early for them.
On the roof of the new science building, the Science Club will have telescopes on display and the schools new telescope will be available for the public to look at. But since the event is held during the day, it will not be in use.
Normally, lobbies and ceilings are two of the more prosaic parts of a building, but not at the new science building. Its lobby leads to the Great Valley Museum. The lobby has a display of the planets of our solar system that are both part of the ceiling and stand out from it. It just has to be seen.
If you come by, I will probably see you at the entrance. After that, I will sneak off to see some of the shows. Just dont tell anyone.
Wild Planet Day admission is $8 per person and $6 for groups of five or more. The MJC West Campus is at 2201 Blue Gum Ave., off Briggsmore Avenue on the west side of Highway 99. For more information, call (209) 575-6196. James McAndrews Jr. is a docent and board member of the Great Valley Museum. Send comments or questions to email@example.com.