Astronomy open house for the communitybwillman | February 9, 2013
This evening, we hosted a wildly successful and fun event in Strawbridge Observatory for families in our community. Thanks to Mariah Baker, the student who led the event, and a number of other student volunteers, we entertained 125+ guests in our small space. Mariah knocked it out of the park with her selection of fun science-based activities, her preparation and leadership, and the awesome signs she created. She deserves huge recognition for her accomplishment in pulling off this event. We didn’t know if we would have 10 guests or 80 and we had more. Hopefully, many future scientists had fun with the telescope and activities on offer.
I have just a handful of phone pix taken before the event was in full swing. We were happily very busy with our generous turnout!
Lee Rosenthal and Mariah Baker talked about cratering with two guests. Kids were given the opportunity to select their own meteor and experiment with how height of infall correlated with the crater morphology generated upon impact.
Robin Chernow and Lyn Oehrig got very messy with oobleck – a slimy mixture of cornstarch and water that has properties in common with the Earth’s mantle. You can see some of the collateral damage in this picture.
This is our first audience for our liquid nitrogren comet ice cream. We went through about 80 spoons for kid visitors alone. Peter Ferguson started out as one of the student leads on this demonstration. Lee Rosenthal was the student lead for this awesome demonstration for the rest of the night, once Peter left to manage the telescope. Special thanks to Chemistry professor, Alex Norquist, for hooking us up with the dewars and LN2 access.
The paper bag space helmet craft activity was also a big hit, with junior Sarah Sofia setting a very high bar with the space helmet she made to begin the night.
The unsung heros in the basement, Alex Dillaire and Eric Smith, led a moon phase demonstration. They capitalized on the stream of customers heading to the basement bathroom sink, messy with melted ice cream and oobleck.
Last but not least, Peter Ferguson did a hero’s job on our 16-inch telescope. He and I carefully considered whether to open the dome given the prior night’s snow (and consulted Steve Boughn). While the main floor of the observatory was overflowing with astronomy, Peter opened the telescope on his own and safely led dozens of families through observing Jupiter and some star clusters.
I cannot speak highly enough for the excellence demonstrated by all of these student volunteers tonight. I felt privileged to be working along side of them.
NSF AST-1151462 provides support for our public outreach program.