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Buena Vista Museum in Bakersfield makes Spring Break learning fun

Science Thursdays at the museum gives kids a chance to learn about natural history, such as the history of Indian tribes in the valley, in an engaging, hands-on way.
science thursdays at bv museum
Posted at 6:05 PM, Apr 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-06 21:13:21-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Breaks from school give both students and teachers a chance to relax. However, instead of keeping your kids inside all day, visiting your local park of museum might be a better option. The Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Science is offering this year's Spring Breakers some fun and creative outlets designed to teach kids more about the world they live in.

During the museum's Science Thursday event this week, kids learned about the various Indian tribes who once lived in the Bakersfield area. Museum instructor Mark Hodson guided participants through an understanding of the different Native American cultures. Along with an informational slideshow, the kids got to participate in hands-on activities to better understand what they've learned.

"People do not learn solely through their eyes and their ears," said Hodson. "They also learn tactilely. Especially for children, it's much easier to engage them and to hold their attention if you give them something to do with their hands, especially if it engages their mind, too."

The kids at the Buena Vista Museum got to engage with a number of games originally created by the Yokut, who lived in this area since before it was Bakersfield.

The museum's Science Thursdays program not only teaches kids about history but let's them experience a little of what it might have been like to grow up in a different era.

12-year-old Mandalyan Shaw says she enjoyed Thursday's event at the museum because it gave her time to have fun.

"They had to use their resources to build whatever they wanted, and it took them a long time to weave their baskets. That's one part that I liked," said Shaw.

Shaw adds that she would recommend Science Thursdays at the museum to other kids.

"I just think it's super fun here, and I think a lot of kids would like it," said Shaw.

Hodson says he truly enjoys being a part of this program, considering the kids' feedback, and he says knowing they want to come back is his motivation to continue teaching the classes.

Buena Vista Museum Executive Director Koral Hancharick says the museum values hands-on learning, as it allows students to be more engaged.

"Rather than it be such an academic 'sit and study out of a book,' it's more of a hands-on, and all our programs are geared for hands-on so that the kids actually get to participate in the project or whatever is going on," said Hancharick.

The programs started at the museum roughly 15 years ago, and according to Hancharick, Buena Vista prides itself on being able to fill some of the gaps left in school curricula left by cuts to science education programs.

As a way to reach as many children as possible, Hancharick says the museum also offers these programs to homeschooling families so they too can learn about natural science.

Learning about Native American tribes isn't the only program the museum offers. Science Thursdays covers a variety of topics, including rocks, sharks, and even dinosaurs, all with interactive activities.

6-year-old Joseph Hayes took part in Science Thursday, and shares his favorite activity of the day.

"I like making the old stuff that they used for the old games that they used to play," said Hayes.

In addition to the Science Thursdays program, the Buena Vista Museum also offers Summer Saturdays Science Camp throughout the months of June and July. For more information on this program and other educational opportunities available at the museum, please visit the Buena Vista Museum of Natural History and Science's website.