On the trimmed, sun soaked lawn behind the Joyce K. Carver Soldotna Public Library on Tuesday afternoon Hayden Carr, 4, watched Linda McMilin explain the last science experiment he was going to see that summer through Soldotna’s chapter of the national “Fizz, Boom, Read!” Summer Reading Club.
At the final party of the summer Carr was surrounded by the group of 50 children who accompanied him through the last eight weeks of the program.
McMilin explained that the experiment involved dropping a piece of Mentos candies into a 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola.
“What do you think will happen, when it’s dropped in?” McMilin asked the silent crowd.
“Boom!” Carr said.
Carr sprang up and yelped as other children squealed in reaction to the explosion of bubbles emitted from the soda bottle once the candy was dropped inside the brown liquid.
Carr said he was able to finish 60 books this summer. He attended every week with his grandmother Glenda Carr.
Glenda Carr said her grandson was one of the most enthusiastic kids throughout the entire program. He went to the library to watch movies, which included “Flubber” and “Inspector Gadget,” and made clay seals when a volunteer from Seward’s Alaska SeaLife Center visited for a day.
Mathew Schwartz, 9, who attended the program with his sister Lydia, said the whole summer was full of fun events. He said he found a book series called Digimon Digital Monsters, an adaptation of the children’s cartoon.
In addition to reading and learning about the libraries resources, children up to the sixth grade attended weekly science-based lectures. While the last day’s activities were less educational, they still incorporated science.
Lydia Schwartz said her favorite part of the summer was the final party, as she munched on a snicker doodle cookie. She said her favorite part was the balloon races.
McMilin said this summer saw twice as many children take part in the program from previous years.
“There was an excellent turnout all summer long,” McMilin said. “It’s great that the new facility is seeing a lot more use.”
McMilin said the increase in participants this year would not have been possible without the new building. A large community room made it possible to house the large group of children and parents, and a kids section and computer programs added to the experience.
The Soldotna community also helped make the series this summer so successful, McMilin said.
McMilin said multiple organizations from the Kenai Peninsula, including the Kenai Watershed Forum, the Kenai Wildlife Refuge, Challenger Learning Center of Alaska and the U.S. Forest Service all taught during the summer program.
McMilin also said if it hadn’t been for the dedication of the parents, who believe it is necessary to keep their kids reading over the summer, the program wouldn’t be so successful. Participants will also receive prizes for how many books they read.
“It’s wonderful the parents think it’s important to keep up these skills and keep reading over the summer,” McMilin said.