Spooky Science Comes to Folsom

Just in time for Halloween, the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District is bringing its Spooky Science workshop to area educators. Teachers will meet inside the visitor center inside the Folsom Powerhouse State Historic Park, a bonus for anyone interested in how electricity works or Sacramento County history.

SMUD ‘s description of the workshop: “Using a spooky, Halloween theme, this workshop will focus on science investigations and will help teachers develop the skills to foster inquiry abilities, which, research has shown, is very difficult to teach. Teachers will review energy in sublimation, which will help support student skills in observations, experimentation, and inference.”

The audience is teachers of grades 5 through 12. The class runs from 4 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 19 at the powerhouse visitor center. Click here for registration.

Last month Pasteur Middle School science teacher Davin Bowker taught a SMUD class on building electrical circuits using batteries and Christmas tree lights that had been cut apart. Over the course of the day, teachers analyzed and built series and parallel circuits, played homemade electrical games, and invented electrical devices for the culminating invention convention. SMUD provided breakfast and lunch as well as two boxes of lights, handouts, and a book of electric circuit activities published by the University of California, Berkeley – all for free. Bowker will teach the Spooky Science class as well, and he promises to bring dry ice for at least one of the experiments.

SMUD’s workshops are for teachers, but I had just emerged from surgery and took along my home health assistant, my teenage daughter. The activities and lectures were enticing enough to keep her excited and entertained throughout the day even though the electrical circuit workshop was geared toward middle school students. I plan to use some of the activities to teach technical reading to my high school special education students. After the electrical circuit workshop, a docent led us through the powerhouse.

The powerhouse is the amazing structure where water from the American River was diverted to create the electricity that powered Sacramento from 1895 to 1952. The visitor center overlooks that river. A timeline of electrical history, both general and Sacramento’s, lines two walls in the visitor center. Hands-on activities teach visitors about the properties of electricity. The fee for parking at the site is waived for those taking a SMUD workshop at the park.