The 6thAnnual Children’s Science Fair took place on Friday, March 15, 2019. Fifty children and their counselors from three different foster homes arrived eager to share in the day at Virginia Robinson Gardens. In keeping with the Children’s Program and its goal to educate kids about the benefits of the garden, the theme this year was “Go Green — Fun Facts about Healthy Eating.” Docents and Volunteers, dressed in green for St. Patrick’s Day, eagerly welcomed the children as they broke up into groups to begin their tour.
Starting with the Mediterranean Garden, the children wandered through the Italian Terrace, and were asked to listen to the sounds of the garden. They marveled at the sound of the “musical staircase” and watched butterflies linger in mid-air. The docent pointed out plants that are included in the Mediterranean plant palette — particularly the bougainvillea, rosemary and lavender. As the children neared the citrus grove, they were served granola bars and petite apples. “Fun Facts” were discussed at the apple espaliers, pointing out the high value of eating an apple a day — especially if eaten with the skin!
As they entered the Kitchen Garden, the children were met by our newest addition to the Science Fair — “Farmer John.” Played by Jonathan Kidder, “Farmer John” took the kids through the vegetable parterres, teaching them about the benefits of carrots, the “Superpowers” of blueberries and the benefits of basil. He stressed the importance of making healthy choices when it comes to foods like potato chips and sugar drinks. Cut vegetables were available for the kids to taste. Our Grounds Caretaker, Josh Johnston, stood ready at our chicken coop known as the Poulet Palace. He explained what the hens eat and the process of laying eggs.
As the groups transitioned to the King Palm Forest, they began to experience the change of temperature. Looking up at the 80 foot Palms and the towering Banyan trees, the children quickly felt the cool air and began to understand that there are obvious changes within the shaded subclimate. They noticed the dense foliage, thick with ferns, and dappled with mounds of blooming Clivia. At the end of the King Palm Forest, magician Dave 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 and their counselors were invited to play Hula Hoop, Ping Pong and Cornhole while the others were escorted into the Pool Pavilion to pick a movie poster to take home. The posters were generously donated by Universal AMC City Walk and brought every year to Robinson Gardens by our friends Marc Dyson and Humberto Mendez.
After a busy day, the kids went off to the tennis court to enjoy their lunch. Jose of the Taco Guys served a delicious taco selection complete with rice, beans, and guacamole. The Friends’ Volunteers in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day served fruit and green glazed doughnuts for dessert. The kids continued to play and dance on the tennis court and enjoyed a game of “freeze dance” with D.J. Fink. Next, it was time for the Science Show. Professor Egghead and her interactive science experiments captivated the audience as they discussed gasses and chemical reactions within the body. She used dry ice to show the solid state of CO2 and created a beautiful mist by adding water, showing the different states of gas molecules. A “hands-on” experiment was done by all.
As the children got ready to leave, they were each given a backpack filled with school supplies, coloring books, and puzzles, which were all generously donated by the Friends of Robinson Gardens. Member Debby Figoni graciously donated pencils and erasers from the Metropolitan Water District. All sounded goodbyes and thank-yous, and it was truly a wonderful day for the children and their counselors.
With the spirit of Virginia and Harry Robinson in mind, and with the generous support of the Friends, we are grateful to have the opportunity to make this day special and to share this lovely estate with so many deserving children.
Post by Patty Elias
Friends of Robinson Gardens Board Member