rain

This is our 9th year hosting Science in the Parks, and we have yet to cancel a day.  This morning as we were getting ready, I was checking the weather radar and scanning the horizon and thinking that today might be that day.  A little rain doesn’t hurt, but it’s our standing policy that if there’s lightning and microbursts of wind that we would just stay home.

So when we parked the trailer, we waited out the torrents raining down on us and saw that there weren’t any others coming out.  But then there was a break, the lunch staff from Ogden SD rolled up, and we decided to put out a few things and make the best of it.  Someone made the mistake of saying that he thought the worst had already passed.

A few others joined us under the bowery, but of course the worst of it hadn’t passed.  We were safe.  We were dry, mostly.  It wasn’t too cold.  And we even found that we could still conduct electricity and make light in the middle of the storm.

Setting up under cover

Setting up under cover

Under construction

Under construction

Taking refuge in Mt. Ogden's bowery

Taking refuge in Mt. Ogden’s bowery

Sheets of rain flowing off the bowery roof

Sheets of rain flowing off the bowery roof

Intrepid Misti bravely ventures into the rain, but takes cover

Intrepid Misti bravely ventures into the rain, but takes cover

Electricity and light, even in the rain

Electricity and light, even in the rain

fountains of science

Really, we do suggest to kids that they should step back and sit on the grass when we get ready for a demonstration. But sometimes they just can’t hold back.

Fans rush the stage as fountains of soda erupt.

Fans rush the stage as fountains of soda erupt.

Our entire program is built around a philosophy that science is playful, collaborative, and experiential. Most of what we do emphasizes this, with kids getting their hands into goo, creating their own paper rockets, looking through the lenses that they select on their own. So, it only makes sense that when we’re setting up a demonstration, they walk up to the table on the fringe and ask: “What are you doing?” “Is going to explode?!” “Can I help?”

And so, even as we ask them to take a step back to avoid the fountain of an exuberant physical change that erupts right before our eyes, we just have to smile as they rush the stage and try to get a literal taste of the science that’s spraying above.

(We have more photos available on our Flickr page and the 2015 Album, with more to come.)

Fun with Big Budah

As we’re starting our first week of the program, we’ve gotten good publicity to kick off the summer. Big Budah and “Good Day Utah” from Fox13 (KSTU) profiled Science in the Parks and Arts in the Parks yesterday.

In case you weren’t up to see it, or you’d like to see a few clips again, here are some highlights for Science in the Parks:

We’ll post more photos and news in the days and weeks to come.  So far, we’re off to a great start!

Anticipation

This is a time of year when I lose sleep. Will we have enough volunteers? (Yes, we would love to have you help if you’re interested!)  Will all of the stuff be ready?  Did we remember to load the trailer?  Are the tents and tables repaired from last year?  Do we have enough bubble solution and Oobleck?

There’s always something, and it makes me uneasy.  Summer, for us, is a whole other kind of busy, the kind that’s like juggling or spinning plates.

But, then there’s stuff like this that makes my heart sing:

LEDintersection

Isn’t it beautiful?  This show three beams of light on a bent piece of paper (to make the rays of light look curved) so that they cross.  We’ve been playing with colored light, mixing the red, green, and blue to satisfy all the detectors in your eyes and give you white.  And, we can make other combinations, like in this photo:

IMG_0531

where even the shadows make interesting color combinations.  This gets me a jumping-up-and-down kind of excited.  Even better, kids will get to play with this stuff on Monday, along with our lenses and mirrors and sunscope and filters and pinhole cameras and new microscopes and:

an infrared camera!  Ever wonder what you look like if you could see only the heat that radiates from you?  Or what pavement looks like compared to grass?  Or what is going on with the dry ice that will be producing our bubbles?  It’s stuff like this that gets me really, really excited.  It certainly doesn’t help me sleep, but it makes me happy.

Our fantastic staff works like elves in the background, developing new activities and revamping the old ones.  (Basically, they get to play with new stuff and new ideas, which is a good model for how science gets done.)  There are more things coming as well.  The stuff I’ve described here is just for “See it!” day, on Mondays.  There are four other days of different activities for any given week as well.

I hope that we see lots of you — both with visible light and with infrared — at Lorin Farr Park on Monday.  Or, some other day.  (Take a look at our schedule.)  And, watch this new webpage and blog, where we’ll continue to post news, photos, videos, and new resources that we’re working to develop to support activities that you can do at home.  You can subscribe to this on the right; and you can also follow us on Facebook.

Stay tuned!  More is coming soon.