Chil­dren cel­e­brate as­ter­oid day at Rich­mond sci­ence cen­ter

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JESSI STICKEL Spe­cial to the Mary­land In­de­pen­dent

Many chil­dren and par­ents spent the af­ter­noon get­ting lost in space with stu­dent as­tro­nauts and search­ing for di­nosaur bones to cel­e­brate As­ter­oid Day at the James E. Rich­mond Sci­ence Cen­ter on Fri­day.

The cen­ter of­fered nu­mer­ous sci­ence-learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences through ed­u­ca­tional videos and hands-on ac­tiv­i­ties. Its unique 60-foot di­am­e­ter Dome The­ater gave visi­tors a sur­round­ing view of fea­tured films on as­ter­oids, al­low­ing them to feel im­mersed in the vir­tual at­mos­phere of space.

As­ter­oid Day is aimed to bring aware­ness of the pos­si­bil­ity of a harm­ful as­ter­oid-re­lated event hap­pen­ing on Earth and “to bring to light the fact that we are just not pre­pared,” said Jack Belle, in­struc­tional re­source teacher at the Sci­ence Cen­ter.

“This is our third year open and this is the first year we are do­ing As­ter­oid Day; this is the first year it’s be­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally cel­e­brated,” he said. “We wanted to have some­thing in the af­ter­noon that kids could en­joy.”

The James E. Rich­mond Sci­ence Cen­ter, lo­cated within St. Charles High School in Wal­dorf, gets visi­tors from not only Charles County schools but oth­ers as well. It has pro­grams for stu­dents from preschool to 12th grade, which co­in­cides with what they are learn­ing in their sci­ence classes with hands-on ac­tiv­i­ties in the dis­cov­ery lab and the Sci­ence on a Sphere and Dome The­ater show­ings, Bell ex­plained.

The cen­ter also of­fers STEM camps dur­ing the sum­mer for stu­dents fourth to eighth grades, which fo­cuses on dif­fer­ent sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math top­ics each week.

Kevin Barry of La Plata re­turned to the cen­ter for As­ter­oid Day with his two daugh­ters, Brynn, 5, and Made­lynn, 4. Barry said he fre­quently brings his girls to have fun par­tic­i­pat­ing in the ac­tiv­i­ties.

“There are a lot of dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties here, and it’s get­ting the kids in­ter­ested in sci­ence and it keeps their minds go­ing even when the school year is not in,” Barry said.

Events like As­ter­oid Day are held at least once a month, Belle said. There are also Sum­mer Thurs­day Theme Nights, which fea­ture show­ings of films for dif­fer­ent top­ics. The next up­com­ing theme is Foren­sics Night, sched­uled for July 13 at 6:45 p.m.

Rachel Boar­man of Leonard­town also re­turned to the Sci­ence Cen­ter for As­ter­oid Day with her chil­dren. “The ac­tiv­i­ties are dif­fer­ent each time and the kids think it’s re­ally interesting,” Boar­man said.

“[Dur­ing the sum­mer] we try to make sure we have dif­fer­ent pro­grams so kids don’t get in the habit of sleep­ing in and lay­ing around; here they will get men­tal ex­er­cise,” di­rec­tor Monique Wil­son said.

Ada Dono­hue, 10, of White Plains, learned about as­ter­oids for the first time at the Sci­ence Cen­ter Fri­day. “It’s fun to come here and learn about things you nor­mally wouldn’t talk about,” Dono­hue said. “I learned about the fu­ture of as­ter­oids and how they are go­ing to col­lect data from one as­ter­oid and I’ll get to see that when I am older.”

Chil­dren con­structed a fake skele­ton of a Tyran­nosaurus Rex dur­ing As­ter­oid Day at the James E. Rich­mond Sci­ence Cen­ter.

PHO­TOS BY JESSI STICKEL

Par­ents and chil­dren watch videos about Earth and the en­vi­ron­ment on the Sci­ence on a Sphere at As­ter­oid Day at the James E. Rich­mond Sci­ence Cen­ter on Fri­day.

Anna Boar­man, 9, of Leonard­town, worked with ar­ti­fi­cial bones to re­con­struct a Tyran­nosaurus dur­ing As­ter­oid Day at the James E. Rich­mond Sci­ence Cen­ter.

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