The Friends of Robinson Gardens 4th Annual Science Fair
This year, our annual Science Fair, held Friday, March 17th, 2017, happened to fall on St. Patrick’s Day. Over eighty children and thirty five counselors from four different group homes attended Virginia and Harry Robinson’s estate for a day of fun, adventure, and education. In the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day, small garden gnomes were hidden throughout the landscape for the children to find. It was a perfect way to infuse a bit of fun into our theme titled “Go Green!”
As the children arrived in the morning, they were divided into groups and were invited to tour the garden. With the help of our wonderful docents and our volunteers, the children were introduced to the history, artifacts, and unusual plants that Virginia and Harry collected while traveling around different regions of the world.
As they entered the Italian Terrace, the children listened to the sounds of the garden. They marveled at the sound of the musical staircase as the water whispered down the stairs. They saw hummingbirds fly near bougainvillea and listened carefully to the flutter of their wings. They learned about Neptune as they wandered past his fountain while snacking on apples and granola bars. They were taught elements of conservation and ecology.
As they entered the Kitchen Garden, home of our very popular chicken coop known as the Poulet Palace, the children were surrounded by planter beds filled with vegetables and herbs. They were taught the value of eating fresh food, the importance of worms in soil, and the concept of “composting.” The hens put on quite a show for the children as our Grounds Caretaker, Josh Johnston, explained what the hens eat and the process of laying eggs. The children eagerly raised their hands to ask questions about different colored eggs and wondered about the whereabouts of the rooster!
As the children entered the King Palm Forest, they began to feel the change in temperature. Looking up at the 80 foot Palms and a towering Banyan Tree, the children quickly felt the cool air and began to understand that there are obvious changes within the shaded sub climate. They noticed the dense foliage, thick with ferns and dappled with mounds of blooming clivia. One child described his experience as a “journey into Jurassic Park!” At the end of the King Palm Forest, magician David DeVito stood waiting in the wings to do magic tricks for all of the unsuspecting children. They were amazed by Magic Dave’s ability to make things disappear!
Next the groups ventured out of the Palm Forest and onto the Great Lawn. The kids were invited to play hula hoop, ping pong, and cornhole, while others were escorted into the Pool Pavilion to pick a movie poster to take home. The posters were generously donated by the studios and are brought every year by Marc Dyson.
After a busy morning, it was time for lunch. The Taco Guys served up a delicious taco selection, complete with rice and beans, while the D.J. played tunes in the background. Fruit and green glazed doughnuts were served by the Friends volunteers in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day. The kids continued to play and dance on the tennis court, and enjoyed a game of “freeze dance.”
Next, it was time for the Science Show. Professor Egghead and her amazing interactive science experiments captivated the audience as they watched her create giant dry ice bubbles and then taught them how to make their own “goop” to take home. She showed them that science could be fun and interesting!
As the children got ready to leave, they were each given a backpack filled with school supplies, a Sudoku book, coloring books, and pencils, which were all generously donated by the Friends of Robinson Gardens. Goodbyes and thank yous were sounded by all, and it was truly a wonderful day for the children and their counselors. With the spirit of Virginia Robinson in mind, and with the support and generosity of the Friends, we are grateful to have the opportunity to make this day so special, and to share this lovely estate with so many deserving children.
Post by Patty Elias
Friends of Robinson Garden Board Member
Photos by Diane Jenkins
Friends of Robinson Gardens Board Member