It's a truism among parents that whenever you give a kid a fancy new toy that was at the top of their Christmas list, the first thing they do is play with the box it came in.
Taking that phenomenon further, the Homewood Science Center provided a big pile of cardboard, kid-safe tools and a couple of project ideas Friday night, Jan. 6, and not even bitterly cold temperatures could keep kids away.
The event was the science center's first children-only event. It was also the first event to include a fee for participation. For $20, parents could drop off their kids and have an evening to themselves.
The event sold out, according to science center Director Edie Dobrez.
"Kids love to play with cardboard," she said.
Although the center was filled with the noise of 30 kids talking, laughing and sawing vigorously, the activity was not purposeless play.
"We wanted to teach about construction, about how to use tools," Dobrez said.
The event started with a brief how-to session on tool safety and to give the kids an idea how to build the two pre-designed projects, a cube and a periscope.
After the presentation, kids could visit a number of stations that were designed to help them focus on different parts of the construction project, a place to trace parts patterns, a place to cut out parts, a place to assemble and a place to decorate the finished product.
Ten adult and high school-aged volunteers were on hand to help at each stage.
Holly Kelsven, HSC marketing and events coordinator, said the center's Kids Committee helped prepare for the event. Members broke down and sorted donated cardboard boxes, and they tested the two project designs.
The science center has two more events coming soon in its Engineering for Kids program.
On Monday, Jan. 16, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. will host "Blast Off!" The project will involve creating "rocket fuel" from water and calcium carbonate to launch miniature rockets.
On Monday, Feb. 13, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. the center will host "Sweet Structures," an opportunity for kids to design and build their own skyscrapers using materials like paper, wood, spaghetti and gum drops.
Each session costs $20 per child.
The next PopUp Science session will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at Franciscan Fitness Center, 100 197th Place in Chicago Heights. The topic will be "Fitness & Nutrition: A Mathematical Spin on Family Wellness."