Science buff and education advocate Jack Brown of Westerville puts on presentations at libraries to inspire young minds.
The retired statistician tried out a new program entitled "Making Music with Electricity" July 10 at the Northwest Library, 2280 Hard Road.
"This'll be a chance to make noise in the library," Brown said before dozens of youngsters entered the meeting room. "That's one of the big attractions of these events."
Brown's timing was just a bit off, because his afternoon presentation happened to coincide with a roof-replacement project for the building. Signs posted throughout the library offered patrons noise-canceling headphones.
Nevertheless, Brown soldiered on, showing youngsters as he started the program how to make a musical sound by running his fingers along an aluminum rod.
With rosin on his hand, Brown explained, made the rod fractionally longer as he pulled on it, creating an electrical charge that showed itself as a vibration.
"It's an acquired skill, but you can really irritate other family members if you get good at it," Brown told his audience.
The presenter went on to hook up a speaker through which he broadcast sounds so deep they were inaudible, but which nevertheless emitted vibrations strong enough to flap a piece of plastic with air waves.
"I thought they really enjoyed it," said Kate Folmar, lead librarian at the branch which is a joint venture of Worthington Libraries and the Columbus Metropolitan Library.
"They seemed really engaged. I appreciated the fact that he gave them a chance to get an up-close view of the electronics that he brought."
Brown's props for the program included a one-string electric guitar and an actual telegraph.
"Amazingly, it still works," he said, walking the device around so the youngsters, ages 6 to 11, could see the tiny spark emitted as he pressed down on keys.
"We're always happy when we can get kids engaged," Folmar said.
"It seemed that the parents were interested, either because the kids were interested or they were interested themselves."
Near the end of Brown's presentation, one little boy's hand shot in the air.
Like anyone seeking to inspire in young people fascination with science and learning, Brown was delighted and gestured for the young lad to ask his question.
"Do you know where the bathroom is?" the boy inquired.
Brown did not and turned to Folmar, who fortunately had the answer.