The Harry Potter theme got a test run this week when students involved in the "SMArT-Y (Science, Music, Art and Theater for Youth) Camp attended a week of Potter-themed activities at the science center, which sponsors the program along with the Floyd County Family Resource Center, 4-H, the Mountain Arts Center and Jenny Wiley Theatre.
Students attended a variety of programs that spun off from themes in the popular novels by J.K. Rowling. Their instructor was the center's education coordinator, Kathy Neeley, who greeted students in full witch regalia and led activities of all stripes in the center's classroom, which had been converted into the "Frogwarts" school.
Campers spent the week learning about the relationship between science and magic and got to make wands, philosopher's stones and potions. They also learned about flying (sans brooms), astronomy and herbology. The day that the Times observed camp saw the kids learning about the eating habits of owls by dissecting owl pellets. Three children at one table used a chart to determine that their owl had eaten a steady diet of voles, mice and shrews.
After an hour of owl eating habits, the campers were led outside for a game of "Quidditch." In the series of books this complex game (which weaves together elements of soccer, polo, dodgeball and baseball) is played on flying brooms, but the children were fully engaged playing the game on their feet. Despite the seemingly complex rules, they were all fully engrossed in the game which required them to get a ball through a set of three rings while avoiding "bludgers" who could freeze their progress for 10 seconds if they nailed them from offsides with a rubber ball aimed below the waist.
The program has a variety of activities and should appeal to all children regardless of experience with the novels or movies, though they certainly would intensify the experience if they picked up one of Potter's adventures before joining in the fun.
The program is filling up fast, but spaces remain for fifth- through eighth-grade students who are looking for something to do the week of July 18. Registration deadline is July 7 and the camp runs from 9 a.m. to noon. Interested parents can contact the center at 899-0303 for registration information.