(Calabasas Elementary School students Oscar Lopez and Ivanna Guerrero volunteer to be shrink-wrapped Monday during one of several fun and educational exercises put on by Shane Passon (left), an educator with the Physics Factory, a mobile lab that was visiting the campus. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Pajaronian)
WATSONVILLE — Students were given a special treat during their first week of summer school when The Physics Bus made a stop at Calabasas Elementary School.
A traveling science lab created by Missouri-based nonprofit organization The Physics Factory, The Physics Bus travels to various schools across the western U.S. to give young students a chance to see science in action.
“It’s always so fun to see people experience things they cannot yet explain,” said Shane Passon, who brought the bus to the school along with fellow educator and Physics Factor Board of Directors President Kip Perkins. “It gets them excited and eager to learn.”
Calabasas teacher Nayeli Vacasotelo led her students, who will be entering fifth grade this fall, to the bus on Monday morning.
“They need more hand-on opportunities like this,” Vacasotelo said. “There’s some negativity around math and science for students this age. But seeing it like this, in a fun way — it can get them hooked.”
At one point, Passon asked for two volunteers. Students Oscar Lopez and Ivanna Guerrero stood back-to-back inside a large plastic bag that went up to their shoulders. Passon turned on a vacuum cleaner, sucking the air from the bag and shrink-wrapping the students.
“Can you guys move your feet?” Passon asked them.
The students shook their head, giggling, as their fellow students watched, laughing and screaming in delight.
“What is everyone noticing?” Passon asked the group, and then eventually went on to explain the science behind what had happened.
Inside the bus, children created mist rings and made their own UV drawings, while others created bubbles and set off plastic bottle rockets outside.
“I think it’s really refreshing for them to learn in a different way,” Passon said. “It opens their eyes.”