PASCO -- Cinco de Mayo was all about fun for 5-year-old Emilio Olivo, who was building a tower of Tinker Toys taller than his uncle.
The Kennewick boy said his goal was to build a flower. The Tinker Toy stem had slim sticks making petals jut out at various places.
Emilio, his uncle Pedro de Valdivia of Pasco, and other children and families tried to balance airplanes, and experimented with earthquakes and bridges at the bilingual interactive family art and science exhibits at Pasco's Cinco de Mayo celebration Saturday.
The exhibits were part of Acceso a la Ciencia, or Access to Science, a program put on by the Tri-Cities' and Yakima Valley's Math, Engineering and Science Achievement program, known as MESA, in partnership with Washington State University Tri-Cities and the Pacific Science Center.
The sounds of children and parents exploring science mixed with Latin music and toy horns from the Cinco de Mayo festival.
Vicky Raya, local MESA youth coordinator, said arts and science exhibits have been part of Pasco's Cinco de Mayo celebration for seven years.
Diana Contreras, 18, a Chiawana High School senior, helped children find the center of gravity for wooden airplanes.
Raya said the goal is to get kids and parents talking about science and encourage children to consider careers in science, mathematics, engineering and technology.
Emilio said his favorite activity was making a tornado in a pop-bottle tube. It took some shakes and a little help from de Valdivia to make the tornado appear as water drained from the top to the bottom bottle.
That was part of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory at Hanford booth, where science educator Erin Steinert taught kids about waves.
The observatory is trying to test gravitational waves that occur when big events happen in space, she said.
For the kids, Steinert had demonstrations of light and sound waves and tornado tubes, as well as a model of the system used to test gravity waves.
* Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org