We thought that Friday would be the first day of the science festival that we are facilitating in Saudi Arabia, but it turned out it was what they called a "soft opening", meaning the site was technically open, but it wasn't advertised to the public. This was done in order to provide a quieter environment for officials of various stripes to come by and check out the site, and as a sort of "dress rehearsal" for the real thing. So, instead of the thousands of people we were expecting, it turned out to be a very mellow day, with only a handful of visitors coming through our booth. However, this gave us a chance to spend one more day with the Talents staff facilitators — it was the first time Lea and I met them — and do all four of our main activities in small groups, getting more familiar with the materials and with each other, and interact with the occasional visitor.
Abdulrahman picked up where he left off the previous day trying to perfect his marble launcher. The key to his eventual success was building in a rubber band buffer between the plunger and the marble.
Eventually the whole contraption spanned most of the big wall in the Marble Machines fort, with contributions from three facilitators.
We set up the big "dog bone" table for Scribbling Machines, and convinced two volunteers, who were trying to decide which booth to work in, to give it a try...
We had Circuit Boards out, and after working on it for a few hours, a group of the girls came up with a list detailing how many of each kind of component is the ideal number to start with for each table.
Wind Tubes was also a big hit, and this photo proves that the unadulterated smile of flight-induced joy is the same all over the world.
While the idea of the real opening the next day, with thousand of visitors flooding in, was a little bit overwhelming, I was really looking forward to hanging out with the facilitators again, keep deepening our relationships, and getting to know each of them better. And so it was with great disappointment that we found, the next morning, that Crown Prince Naif had passed away suddenly, and due to national mourning the festival would be cancelled until Wednesday.
However, we have not been idle! More about what we've been up to in blog posts to follow...