Preston Boomer is the science teacher you always wished you had.
Mr. Boomer, who goes by the nickname “Boom,” has taught science at the San Lorenzo Valley High School for some 53 years. However for Boom and his students, the fun of learning extended beyond the walls of the high school and into a magical world of science, music, history and epic water battles, all created by Boom and his students over the last half century.
Known as “Boomeria,” it is set amidst the quiet redwoods on Boomer’s property in Bonny Doon, California. Of course it isn’t so quiet when Boom and his crew of students known as the “Brotherhood of the Natural Philosophers” are there. A kind of medieval science kingdom, Boomeria has its own castle, cannons, catacombs and a huge pipe organ.
Among the earliest additions to Boomeria was the pipe organ, an 1879 model, rescued by Boom and repaired by him and his students beginning in 1953. Today the pipe organ, which nearly fills the entire chapel built around it, has been much improved and has 40 ranks and some 2,500 pipes offering nearly every kind of organ sound. The organ is nearly exactly like a medieval organ, with the only modern upgrade an electric pump. So impressive is the home built organ that music lovers come from many miles around to hear the organ at the “Boomeria Extravaganza,” a fundraiser for the Baroque Festival.
However, the organ and chapel is only one element of the massive Boomeria. Nearby is a three story castle, with a 140 meters of catacombs and mock dungeons below it! The catacombs let out into various other parts of Boomeria, including the Great Hall, the Engine Room, The laboratory, and CIC, and make a convenient way to travel across Boomeria.
The tunnels, castle, and various outposts are used in huge water battles in which students try to overtake the castle from Boom with water cannons, water balloon launchers, and water guns. All of which serves to illustrate the science of water pressure, and the tactics of medieval battles. The students shouldn’t get their hopes of winning up too high however, for even when King Boom loses, as his motto goes, “the King always wins!”
Among the many other amazing items in Boomeria are a working Guillotine (presumably locked up for safety reasons), an engine room complete with stations to man the huge water cannons, and an antique laboratory with testing stations, dozens of chemical samples (many quite old having been inherited from Boom’s grandfather), a working telegraph to communicate across Boomeria, and a working steam engine.
While Boomeria is a private home, Boom opens it up to the public for the Santa Cruz Baroque festival, and occasionally to private groups. Recently, 45 Google employees got a tour of Boomeria and a chance to traverse its secret passages, and play with the myriad toys, and scientific instruments.
Boomeria is a testament to what 50 years of building, teaching, and the construction help of the “Brotherhood of the Natural Philosophers” can produce.
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