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Sunday, February 17 , 2019, 6:37 am | Fair 49º


Holiday Revelers Invited to Have a Blast with Volcanoes

Richard Wade discusses with children his model of a volcano. He will present “Volcanoes in Science and Story” at the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center on Saturday.

Late in the evening on Friday, the man-made Fourth of July fireworks shows will come to an end. As beautiful as they are, they pale in comparison to Mother Nature’s greatest fireworks shows: volcanoes.

Story teller, educator and artist Richard Wade will give his presentation “Volcanoes in Science and Story” at 7 p.m. Saturday on the lawn at the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center. Some visitors may remember him from his program “The Last Days of the Dinosaurs.”

Sporting a yellow hard hat and wearing a bright red jumpsuit, with a climbing harness and rope, Wade looks like he is ready to descend into a volcano to collect molten rock. Wade has a master’s degree in art, which explains the beautifully crafted models and illustrations used to depict the way volcanoes erupt and grow. He tells of the myths and legends about volcanoes and demonstrates how the secret of eruptions is in the power of bubbles.

Wade’s model of a volcano is a work of art and a science marvel to young visitors as they excitedly watch vermiculite blast to great heights above a model volcano. This is not your typical display of baking soda and water pretending to be a volcanic eruption. This is an accurate demonstration of pyroclastic debris being hurled high into the air.

Volunteers from the audience will help make a large model volcano erupt. One child will use a tire pump to charge up the volcano and, under Wade’s direction, a second youth will turn a valve and let ‘er rip.  The volcano will erupt several times as Wade builds up to a grand finale eruption.

At the end, participants will get a piece of lava to take home. The program is geared toward children ages 5 to 12, but all ages are welcome.

The event is held outdoors, at the center. There are a limited number of chairs and families are urged to bring camp chairs and layered clothing, including a light sweater and coat. 

Donations, which are used to pay for programs, are $3 for adults, $2 for children ages 5 to 18 and free for children younger than 4. The Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center is on Scenic Highway 33, a half-hour drive north of Ventura.

Mike Havstad is director of the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center.

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