Volunteers help teach kids science at downtown LA museum

As part of KPCC's "Season's Givings" series, KPCC's Molly Peterson talks to volunteers at the California Science Center in Exposition Park.

Peterson: Henry Abrash taught chemistry to college students. His audience today is a little easier: 7-year old Amy Chen, and her brother Albert. They're visitors from Philadelphia.

Henry Abrash: They're learning about lenses, telescopes, and having fun. Rather then tell 'em, I let 'em try things out and see it.
Amy Chen (giggling): Your head looks small.
Abrash: She knows it's the wrong way, but she likes to make things look small.

Peterson: The Science Center trains volunteers, but there's no test.

McCaleb: I am not a scientist in any way.

Peterson: Orientation taught McCaleb about Van de Graaff generators and vascular muscles. He says enthusiasm is the skill volunteers need most when they meet with a busload of kids.

McCaleb: They're so excited and rambunctious, and they want to learn, but they can't admit they want to learn. When they're a huge group, you can do a huge spectacle of science with them.

[Sound of virtual reality soccer game]

Peterson: He says stoking children's curiosity is his reward.

McCaleb: I want people to be empowered to question reality and understand it for themselves and not have to believe what someone else tells them.

Peterson: Believe the Science Center when they say you can go to their Web site – CaliforniaScienceCenter.org – to download an application to help out.