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Posted on Jul 30, 2019

Family Summer Adventure focuses on electricity

Children, parents and some senior citizens gathered at Quincy Heritage Park on Saturday, July 20, for Family Summer Adventure, a day full of events focused on electricity in the valley organized by Quincy Valley Historical Society and Museum.
The Quincy-Columbia Basin Irrigation District, Grant PUD and Pacific Science Center supported the events with informative presentations and booths throughout the day.
The day’s events started with a bus tour around Quincy, showcasing the farmland and its extensive network of canals. About 18 attendees filled the bus, provided by the city as one of the cities free summer bus tours. It lasted about 90 minutes.
Environmental assistant manager for the irrigation district and first-time tour guide Craig Gyselinck led discussion about the canal system and how it irrigates 255,000 acres of farmland in the area.
The tour’s first stop landed at one of nine major water pumping plants in the district. Attendees were invited to view the large pumps, all six of them combining to produce 10,000 horsepower, impressive considering the plant and pumps were built in 1948, said Gyselinck.
The tour continued and next stopped at the Winchester office, the smallest in the district, before finishing the tour at a hydroelectric dam, the main focus of the Family Summer Adventure.
The dam, called the Quincy Chute Power Plant, located off White Trail Road near the Colockum Ridge Golf Course, is a way for the irrigation district to generate revenue for maintenance and operations costs, according to Gyselinck.
“I was just really impressed with the questions that people asked,” Gyselinck said. “There was a lot of interest about how we operate and maintain our system, and I think that’s really great.”
Gary Nelson, a Wenatchee resident for the last 25 years, participated in the tour and was impressed with the complexity and maintenance of the system. According to Nelson, irrigation systems were much different where he grew up.
“I grew up on a farm in California and it’s totally different,” said Nelson. “This is a much more sophisticated and automated system.”

Outreach educator for the Pacific Science Center Kia Valkonen instructs volunteers to touch hands in order to complete a circuit. About 25 attended the show in the barn at Heritage Park on Saturday.
Photo by Miles King/Post-Register

The second event of the day, Volts and Jolts, was held in the Community Heritage Barn on the Heritage Park grounds. About 25 children, parents and others in attendance were treated to a presentation by the Pacific Science Center from Seattle. The presentation covered the basics of electricity: charge, electrons, volts, currents, conduction and circuits.
Children were invited to participate in the demonstrations, including a Van der Graaf generator, a Tesla coil and even a pedal bike generator. Kia Valkonen, an outreach educator with the Pacific Science Center and the presenter, encouraged audience participation.
“You want to get people doing things,” said Valkonen. “That’s what I love about the exhibit sets; they’re just hands-on, and they can explore themselves.”
At the conclusion of the presentation, Valkonen invited any other children to come forward to try out the Van der Graaf generator. In total, about 10 kids attended the event, and many of them participated in the demonstrations.
The day’s events, focused on electricity, were the first Family Summer Adventure day in a two-part series. The next adventure will occur in late August and will focus on the agriculture and food produced in the valley.

By Miles King,