The wonders of solar power are on display at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana where a new water fountain, powered by the sun, was unveiled Wednesday.
It is the center's first outdoor interactive exhibit, and the first to be built by a team of the science museum's employees.
The team, made up of about 10 workers, spent four months and worked many long hours, sometimes through the night, constructing the whimsical fountain which features plastic orange and green water wheels and flying fish.
"We wanted something that was germane to California . . . just odd enough to hold people's interest," said Charles Varga, a freelance designer who assisted with the project.
Southern California Edison donated $20,000 to build the fountain. The fountain will complement the Cube, the 10-story, 460-panel solar power device that is visible from Main Street and the nearby Santa Ana Freeway. The power generated by the Cube saves the center about $8,000 a year on its electric bills.
Four metal poles support the fountain, and curved rods, symbolizing waves, hold the fish and wheels. Outside the fountain, eight rotating solar pods, or stations, are positioned so they can be manually aimed at the sun. The sunlight is converted into energy and powers individual motors underneath the fountain. The motors propel the water upward through small tubes.
A visiting class of fifth-graders from Heninger Elementary School in Santa Ana that had been touring the center were asked to interrupt their tour to attend the 20-minute dedication, which included speeches by various officials.
Fortunately for everybody, it was a sunny day, and when the black pads were pulled off the solar panels and pointed toward the sun, the water poured forth.
Ana Beatriz Cholo can be reached at (714) 966-5890.