Education

MJC’s Great Valley Museum holds Wild Planet Day at its new home Saturday

Jupiter and the line of other planets in our solar system hang above tables in the lobby of the Modesto Junior College Science Community Center. Planetarium shows will be open for an additional charge.
Jupiter and the line of other planets in our solar system hang above tables in the lobby of the Modesto Junior College Science Community Center. Planetarium shows will be open for an additional charge. naustin@modbee.com

Take a field trip through the Earth and stars Saturday as the Great Valley Museum holds Wild Planet Day at its new home, the Science Community Center on the Modesto Junior College West Campus.

The event is a fundraiser for the Great Valley Museum, in the final stages of moving into the building lobby. Many museum displays have been refurbished and cleaned for their new home, including the giant polar bear, now a snowy white, said volunteer Linda Crabtree.

“I’ve been watching the progress all summer and it’s just amazing,” Crabtree said.

The MJC Math and Engineering Division will join in hosting the family-friendly science festival Saturday. Cost is $8 or $20 for a family of six. Food and vendor booths will be provided by campus and local organizations.

The day offers the public a chance to experience the high points of the $70 million complex, including a 6-foot Science-on-a-Sphere from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Watch the Foucault pendulum swing, knocking over a circle of metal pegs through the day.

The planetarium, with its first-in-the-nation Carl Zeiss projector, will offer star shows for an additional $5. Outside the circular building, a fountain tosses water arcs into perfect parabolas.

An open stairway in the center’s lobby spirals toward the upper floors around a sculpture of an insulin DNA strand. Interactive science demonstrations will include squid and owl pellet dissection, how to build a bat box and a chance to check out a microscope.

Local science celebrity Dr. Al Chemist will show off dramatic experiments. The Bat Lady will participate, and Mike Sutton will have a display of reptiles and amphibians.

The nonprofit Great Valley Museum provides science and natural history information to adults and children of all ages through classes, programs and exhibits. The new facility offers more than triple the space of the old cobbled-together complex, which included a 1930s campus bookstore, garage and double-wide trailer at Stoddard and College avenues.

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