Schoolchildren explored the physics of light Friday at the Mancos Public Library, creating rainbows with garden hoses and prisms.
The Mancos Public Library started the once-a-month program on Fridays for kids from grades kindergarten through eighth grade in September. Since then it has received $4,500 in grant funding from Empire Electric, BP and Kinder Morgan to continue the program, said Kathy Merrill, a mathematician and library board member who helped organized the program.
Retired engineer and scientist Bob Wilson, who led the lesson on light Friday, helped write science education into the library's strategic plan about three years ago.
"I have been following what's happened with science education in the country for a while," he said. "Our students don't seem to perform very well compared to the rest of world. I saw this as way to help to contribute to a solution."
Wilson said he hopes the program will encourage students to pursue high-paying and challenging careers in math and science.
So far, the program has explored the phases of the moon and how animals adapt to cold weather and fire.
Merrill and Wilson visited the Durango Discovery Museum and two other hands-on museums in the region to learn how to present science in a way that would get students excited about pursuing it.
On Friday, the program attracted about 30 kids to the morning session and about 10 to the afternoon session.
"All ages really had fun playing the prisms," Merrill said.
The library hosts two sessions on the selected Fridays - one in the morning for children in kindergarten through third grade, and one in the afternoon for older kids.
The sessions always coincide with a day off from school. The library already has tentatively scheduled a chemistry lesson in January, a lesson on snow in February and a lesson on electricity in March.