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Bainbridge youth camp debunks science stereotypes

Science isn't stale at Tim Lowell's island summer camps

Camp Yeomalt may not seem like an ideal place for a science lab.

But it's a perfect place for messy experiments, and a fun introduction to chemical reactions.

Tim Lowell and a handful of children have been blasting plastic bottle rockets into the air, sending a explosion of a baking soda and vinegar foam in all directions

While the kid's excitement is evident in their screams and laughs, there is something deeper going on.

"My whole philosophy is I want to take young children and give them a fun introduction to science and art," Lowell said. "If you can do that, that will foster a love for science and art in the years to come."

Lowell, a 17-year resident of Bainbridge Island, has facilitated in the introduction of many island youths to science and art.

A renaissance man in his own right, Lowell has owned a sculpture business, a science publishing company and developed curriculum for schools. He now operates www.activeartandscience.com, which ships large-scale mosaic kits for fairs and classrooms across the country.

But his passion is working as an instructor for the Parks District and the Bainbridge Island Arts Education Community Consortium.

"I really enjoy teaching, I have actually found something I love to do," he said. "I still have a business end, and that's great, but it doesn't make me as happy as stepping into the classroom or art studio."

For Lowell, it is all about integrating simple subjects, and getting children comfortable with the fundamental concepts that can be daunting in later life.

"I enjoy arts and science integration," Lowell said. "Showing young students how art and science are tied together makes science more interesting. It also makes them feel like they are good at it."

One of the most popular experiments Lowell has his young subjects undertake, involves a simple chemical reaction using borax and glue which creates a slime. Not only does it teach the basics of molecular restructuring, but coloring the slime adds an art element.

Even something as novel as building a baking soda bottle rocket involves construction, decoration, and of course the chemical reaction which launches bottles 40 feet in the air.

And while you may smell like vinegar for a while afterward, getting messy may be just the thing to light the spark in the next generation of artists and scientists.

"I don't sit on the podium and talk a lot, we just do the projects," Lowell said. "That is the best way to lead children, if you don't get into the project they won't get it."

Lowell will be teaching Park District science camps this summer. You can check out a list of camps that Lowell will be teaching by viewing one of the Parks and Recreation pamphlets at www.biparks.org

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