Photo by Matthew Cohen
Siblings Chandler and Maddy Perry eagerly await their next instruction.
A mid-winter afternoon at the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum seems cold and eeriely quiet from the outside.
Step inside the buildings, however, and there’s a stark contrast: excited, interested children making use of the long winter months.
If you go:
Snowball, a series of free or low-cost events, runs until the end of February. The last Science Saturdays and Winter Adventure Race will take place at the Champlain Valley Transportation Museum at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23.
For more information on events, visit borderlessnorth.org/events/2013-snowball-celebrating-winter-in-the-north-country/
On Saturday, Feb. 16, a group of eight kids learned about the “science of snow”—that is, imitation snow created through a mix of water and polymer—and what happens when it reacts with basic household items like vinegar.
There were robots, too, and even a snow catapult.
These days of learning are part of a series dubbed “Science Saturdays,” aimed at keeping kids’ minds active as the chilling winter cold tends to force them indoors, while temptation gives way to less-stimulating activities such as television or video games.
The weekly series is part of a month-long event called Snowball, which also gets kids reading, exercising and making art while they wait for springtime.
“It’s all about having fun in February,” said Amy Bonn, a volunteer at the event.
It worked, too. One participant, second grader Max Schaefer, begged his mother for permission to go outside to see what would happen if he mixed the polymer with real snow.
The children weren’t just there to learn about science, though.
On the other end of the winter-fun spectrum was the brainchild of the Clinton County Youth Bureau and the Town of Plattsburgh—a quarter-mile long obstacle course which consisted of plastic shed roofs, tractor tires, and a wooden frame containing a rather complex-looking assortment of bungee cords.
The project was completed for just $800 by using felled trees and items from the old Plattsburgh Air Force Base and was spearheaded by Clinton County Youth Bureau Director Molly Flynn, who has built a positive reputation in working with children.
“Molly is the kind of person who can say, ‘Let’s count paper clips!’ and get 50 kids to do it,” Bonn said.
You don’t have to take Bonn’s word for it, either—wave upon wave of children flooded the registration area, located in the transportation museum’s store.
It’s there that one can find Flynn, who explained the origins of the event.
“We always said you could run a fun run every single week for the entire year, and people would come, so we thought, ‘all right, well how can we do winter?’,” Flynn said. “Then we had this idea last year, ‘what if we made the race an obstacle course?’”
From there, things quickly began to fall into place.
“We were approached to be a part of this group called the Kids Corridor, and they came up with this whole ‘Snowball’ idea, and here we are,” Flynn said.
This year’s Snowball was the first of its kind in the North Country, and it won’t be the last so long as the community continues to support it.
Bonn explained that they’ve been able to run the event on a very tight budget, and they rely on funds and donations from the community to make it happen.
Without these winter “extravaganzas,” as Flynn called them, we won’t have kids like Max doing what they do best—finding the silver lining among the gray winter clouds, and having fun doing it.