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Hill Country Science Mill forecasting wintry mix of snow fun and learning

JOHNSON CITY — The folks at Hill Country Science Mill are forecasting a 100 percent chance of snow Jan. 9.

But for those traveling through Johnson City, the accumulation is limited to a specific area on the center's grounds, so travel should not be impeded. Unless you have a carload of kids — both in age and at heart — looking for wintry fun.

The hands-on science center, located at 101 S. Lady Bird Lane, is creating the snowy setting for a number of reasons.

“Well, first we thought it would be fun,” said the Science Mill's Holly Barton. But as with anything at the facility, the staff have found ways to combine fun with learning. “We really wanted to do something that celebrated the winter season.”

So the staff began tossing ideas around. One of the co-founders, who originally hails from Minnesota, lamented how kids in this area really don’t get to experience snow. At first, it was just a thought, but as the staff tossed around the idea, light bulbs started going off in everyone’s heads.

“We can do this,” Barton said of the staff consensus.

The snow gets blowing at about 11 a.m. and is scheduled through 1 p.m., but Barton said that, depending on the weather, it could last longer.

Along with the snow, participants can test their snowball-throwing aim with the Science Mill's catapults. Barton said staff first wanted to let the kids build catapults to learn about physics and engineering, but they quickly realized there wouldn't be enough time.

But the kids will still receive science lessons during the activity.

“We’ll have targets set up on one of the buildings, so the kids can try different heights and strengths, things like that,” Barton added.

Families also can try out the “ice-ball” piano, which is similar to the museum’s popular banana piano.

Barton explained they’ll set up circuits and a Makey-Makey board connected to ice sculptures. Then, people can use the sculptures to generate different sounds.

Other activities include throwing snowballs with a radar speed check and a snow pit for building art and castles. There will be snow cones and hot chocolate available for purchase as well.

Hill Country Science Mill staff encourage people to wear mittens or gloves to keep their hands warm while playing in the snow.

In case of rain, the event will be postponed.

The snow day activities are included in the regular Science Mill admission of $6.50 for youth 2-18; $8 for adults; and $6 for seniors 65 and older and military members. There is no admission for children under 2.

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Also, Barton added that parents should check out the Science Mill website starting in mid-January for summer camp information and registration.

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