ST. JOHNSBURY — Two astronomy programs at Fairbanks Museum offer kids a chance to reach for the stars and become citizens of the cosmos during April break.
Museum educators have created an astronomy “camp-in-a-box” filled with daily activities for children between seven and 12 years old. Astronomy Camp, sometimes known as “rocket camp” because for years kids have been building and launching their own space ships, is for older students (between nine-14 years old). Both experiences encourage creativity and exploration during April vacation.
Space exploration is ongoing, and Fairbanks Museum educators want to “help prepare you to become a Citizen of the Cosmos!” says science educator Bobby Farlice-Rubio of Astronomy Camp, “With some imagination and ingenuity, we’ll find out how to build and launch our own rockets — testing to see which models fly highest or furthest. We’ll also take a look at the latest images from space and discuss the possibility of life on faraway planets.” While the Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium at the Fairbanks Museum is temporarily closed due to safety concerns during the pandemic, Farlice-Rubio has brought his interests online with a new Night Owl Club for questions and discussions about the latest happenings in space exploration. Night Owl Club meets monthly on the first Thursday at 7 p.m. via Zoom.
This year, astronomy camp will meet virtually for four days to discuss the latest news, discoveries, and science concepts coming from our recent missions in space. “Black Holes! Gravity Waves! Exoplanets! Stars that look like they’re salsa dancing! Every space topic is up for exploration,” says Farlice-Rubio. “We will also ask our ancestors to show us the stars, as they were seen in ancient times, in the traditions of many nations. We will learn the lessons gained from the past, like how gravity and telescopes work, to see the future of space exploration and humankind’s place in it. For the first time, this year we will also get to talk to a real-life rocket engineer from a new aerospace company based in Brunswick, Maine!”
The final day of Astronomy Camp will be dedicated to gathering safely in-person to launch homemade rockets. Every participant will receive a box of materials to be used in our activities before the camp begins. In addition to having group meetings online and engaging in some self-directed activities offline, all participants will have the opportunity to have an optional one-to-one virtual discussion with Farlice-Rubio at some point during the camp.
Astronomy Camp-in-a-Box allows children experiments with light, gravity, and speed at their own pace and in their own space. Games, puzzles, kits and more to spark excitement and discovery in young astronomers have been collected and put together, along with detailed guidance, so that a space explorer can follow their interests. Each Astronomy Camp-in-a-Box is put together by Fairbanks Museum educators.
Contact Karina Weiss at 802-748-2372 or visit www.fairbanksmuseum.org to register for astronomy camp or camp-in-a-box.