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Idaho State University puts together haunted science lab for kids

Haunted houses and other haunted attractions are never hard to find during the Halloween season. But Idaho State University offers something a little bit different – a haunted science lab. Rather than scaring kids, the university is using the theme of the holiday to educate kids.

The science lab is geared toward kids in fifth through eighth grade and focuses on teaching kids what’s in Idaho’s state science standards.

But ISU professor Steve Shropshire, who organized the lab, said it’s more than just looking and reading. It’s a hands-on experience for kids, which really helps them learn.

“The way our brains work, we understand things so much better if we can interact with what we’re trying to study, if we can experiment on our own,” Shropshire said. “That’s when we learn the best.”

The lab offers a little bit of everything in the physical sciences. There were electromagnets and magnetic pull exhibits, static electricity, and many different kinds of lights. There were tesla coils, which kids got to touch to see how electrical current and voltage work.

Kids could learn about properties of light, states of matter, motors and much more.

The lab uses many similar techniques used by Disneyland in its “Haunted Mansion” attraction, including some optical illusions.

By looking at pictures through different types of lenses and from different angles, kids could see how pictures like Mona Lisa look normal from one view and suddenly “evil” from another.

Shropshire said it took a month to get the lab all set up and he had several volunteers from ISU and the community.

Shropshire said the kids always seem to enjoy it and that’s what is important. That’s why he does it.

“I’m an educator because one of my biggest joys in life is to share what I think is really, really cool with other people,” he said. “And frankly, science is incredibly cool. You can’t get much cooler than science.”

During the week, the lab is open for student tours and school groups. It opens to the public on Saturday from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.

The cost is $3 per person or $7 for a family. The money made on admission goes to the Pocatello Kiwanis children’s charities to help numerous kids programs in the area.

The science lab is located at 300 N. 5th Ave. across from the Robert Allen automotive dealership.

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