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Second Saturday Family Day at Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center: Technology and Innovation

This Saturday, the folks at the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center welcome  families to the first of a series of Expanded Second Saturday events. The Family Day will feature technology and innovation through the ages, with ongoing demonstrations by individuals and community organizations at five stations in related museum exhibits.

“The presentations will give visitors an understanding of how what has happened in the past is relevant to our lives today,” said education coordinator Janelle Kennedy. “Though nearly everyone has a camera on their cellphones or a digital camera, participants will see how that technology is rooted in the primitive pinhole camera and the earliest understanding of optics that is the foundation for what we have today.”

A take-home craft is a special feature of all of the museum’s monthly Second Saturday events.

This weekend, children will be constructing their own pinhole camera, guided by Amanda Vercruysse—a UMW student who is a longtime volunteer and currently an FAMCC intern.

“Using a simple Pringles® can to make their cameras, kids will learn about how the optics work with light and how the camera is based on the model of the eye,” Vercruysse said. “Though we have access to cameras all the time now, this activity will give children an appreciation for the historical use of the camera and an understanding of how science and innovation impact our culture.”

Participants will have an opportunity to explore all of the museum’s exhibits free of charge on the day of the event—including its powerful collection of Civil War photographs.

A representative of the Rappahannock Electric Cooperative will give a presentation on electrical safety near the museum’s exhibit featuring the array of water-driven mills that buzzed along the river’s shore more than 100 years ago, including the electric power plant that stood at the site of Old Mill Park in the late 1880s.

A presentation by UMW student Allison Shiley will explain the role that star charts and an understanding of astronomy play in navigation and determining a ship’s position at sea—skills that guided seafarers long before the GPS was conceivable.

Finally, bringing the review of science and innovation up to the trailblazing technology of the 21st  century, Chris Robertson of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library will  present the marvels of the 3–D printer that is featured in the library’s Mobile MakerLab.

 “The activities will engage children from preschool age through middle school, presenting the material in a language that each group can relate to,” said Kennedy.

The library’s Extended Second Saturday Family Days will be hosted quarterly and provide an opportunity for visitors to explore more fully the link between the area’s history and our present way of life.

The events offer families an introduction to a sampling of the museum’s collection of more than 7,000 objects that span more than 10,000 years of the area’s history.

“This is a chance for children and their parents to work together in a fun and learning experience and to gain a better understanding of our community and its history,” said Kennedy.

What: Second Saturday Family Day: Technology and Innovation

Where: The Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center, 1001 Princess Anne St., Fredericksburg

When: Saturday, Nov. 9, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Cost: Demonstrations, take-home craft and exploration of museum exhibits are free of charge.

Info: 540/371-3037;

Collette Caprara is a local writer and artist.

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