Have you wondered how lighthouse lenses work, or how ship models are built? The education staff at the Columbia River Maritime Museum offers family programs on these and other topics during spring break next week.

The programs, free with admission, run from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday in the Ford Family Room of the museum. Each day will focus on a different topic. Children and their parents can join in the daily hands-on activities.

Monday - Learn about signal flags as a way of communicating. Participants can spell their names using signal flags.

Tuesday - For hundreds of years, the United States has traded overseas with China. Family members can practice writing in Chinese.

Wednesday - Life during World War II was filled with sacrifices. Through historical photographs, artifacts and a craft, families can experience the hardships for those on the home front.

Thursday - Families can discover the four lighthouses that warn ships of this hazardous Columbia River entrance and can experiment with prisms and light.

Friday - Model shipbuilder Clyde Rau demonstrates how he builds ship models. Families can work together to make a boat as a souvenir.

Rau continues his shipbuilding demonstration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Saturday. During his time at the museum, he will work on the unfinished Columbia River bateaux and display two completed models: the Victorine, a sloop that carried commerce up and down the river in the 1840s, and the Fair American, a Revolutionary War brig. Rau uses authentic ship plans in his construction, following the same procedures used in building the ships.

The Columbia River Maritime Museum is located at 1792 Marine Drive in Astoria. It is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors 65 and older, $4 for children ages 6 to 17, and $24 for families. Members always enter free.

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