Back in Time (Historic Restoration and Chemistry)

Mr. Joe Mester and Ms. Sara Johnson

York County Teen Science Café


This YOCO Teen Science Café was really about exploring different techniques and skills needed in historic restoration. Mr. Joe Mester and Ms. Sara Johnson work for the Culture & Heritage Museums.  They are both conservationists and preservationists and their job is to restore old structures while keeping them historically accurate to the time period when they were built.  However, sometimes the houses or structures are spanning a 100 years or more and then they choose which time period to go back to and restore them to that period of history. (This is such an exact science that they can even match the exact pigments and color of the paint used during that time period using chemical processes!) This is more than just furniture and flooring and things.  It is more about the structure itself. The coolest part was how much math and chemistry are used in doing a historical restoration. Ms. Sara brought some on-site demonstrations and visuals for us to touch, including a live mortar analysis and paint sampling, as well as explaining the math, art, technology and engineering that go on behind the scenes.  Ms. Sara also showed a picture of a brick (from 1700’s) that was kept in the house that had a dog paw print.  Mr. Joe told some stories and talked about the wood structure and how the floors and the way the wood was cut can show what time period it is from.  This Café had all the elements of STEAM in it and that made it pretty cool!

Hands on Activity

We had an opportunity to have microscopic views of various types of sand which was pretty mesmerizing. We had some good examples in the presentation and real life too. It was amazing how every single part of a brick can affect the complete foundation. The volunteers were really sweet and effective in explaining. We also did some fun stuff like cutting, screwing and drilling a wooden log in an ancient way using old antique hand tools. It really was fun!