Superhero science hit ScienceWorks this weekend with all the kitsch and kryptonite of a comic book. With superhero-related events, experiments and excitement, the event was geared to tie in superhero fun with the educational concepts of science.
"We're trying to get the kids to pay attention to science," said Event Promoter Alan Parowski, who emceed the event as his alter ego, Dr. Weirdo, master of mystical mistakes. "You have to make it fun so they can understand what they can do with science."
Parowski, who has a history of promoting children's and other events, especially in San Francisco, explained that to make this happen, kids have to be engaged at all levels: "Mentally, physically, emotionally and creatively."
Clad head to toe in red-and-white striped tights and orange Converse high tops, Dr. Weirdo was found at the "super gadget table," helping children make masks and gadgets using cereal boxes, garland, glitter and various materials while super hero-themed music filled the museum.
Nine-year-old Ashlander Ian Rinefort was hoping to get a mini Spiderman disk to launch into the air using his gadget. When not constructing super gadgets, Rinefort turns into Spiderman and scales the ScienceWorks building during the event.
Nine-year-old Kip Parowski of Ashland, who also goes by "Accela Boy," created an "anti-nuclear thermal missile."
"I think it's pretty cool," said the younger Parowski, "to bring justice to the world."
The highlight of the super gadget table was the "Leap tall buildings in a single bound display," a film container filled with vinegar and baking soda. When the gas produced builds up, the top is popped and the canister flies through the air. The question posed by Parowski was, "What chemical reaction causes such an amazing leap?"
According to ScienceWorks Executive Director Mark DiRienzo, the event was intended to liven up museum's offerings.
"We're constantly looking for fun things for the kids to do." DiRienzo said.
Parowski was also pleased by Saturday's attendance, and he plans on making it continue.
"We're really trying to ramp up the activity," Parowski said. "People are saying they haven't seen the place this busy in years. This is definitely going to be an annual event, we're looking at waterslides next year."
The weekend's marquee events included: The "bat-wall," a rock climbing wall that Parowski said over 150 climbed on Saturday, "the jousting battle arena," an inflatable ring where would-be super heroes used puffy jousting poles to knock one another into a wet, foamy pit, and classic super hero films. The showstopper was perhaps the aerial super-battle, featuring Susan Chester's Curtain Climbers Aerial Dance Company.
"When super heroes have differences, we have a super-battle amongst ourselves," Parowski barked in circus fashion. "We resolve our differences in a cosmic competition."
Chester's aerial dancers each climbed the silk, performing to the theme of their chosen super heroes — Cat Woman, Wonder Woman, Batgirl and Spider-girl. When the aerial antics were finished, Spider girl sprayed silly string on the crowd, to the excitement of the youngsters.
In closing, Dr. Weirdo assured the public that all is safe.
"We wanted to expose our good citizens to the super friends who protect them," Parowski said. "The evil-doers are definitely on the run."