Truly I can’t mention enough how fortunate and thankful I am to provide educational services, through AmeriCorps of National Service, at the Fairbanks Museum & Planetarium. As of today, a little thing called Astronomy Camp finished its last day in exploring space science!
It’s not only an incredibly immersive learning experience for both students and the teacher assistants, but most notably really hands-on. STEM Education, science technology engineering and mathematics, is what the Fairbanks Museum prides itself on contributing, encouraging, and supporting for our rural but wide-spread region.
Featured here from camp day three, we have science expert and long-time educator Bobby Farlice-Rubio showing students how through using various calculations, methods, and techniques, we can detect certain waves and particles. Specifically here, he has put a (harmless) rock with some uranium within it inside the box with the light. The dry ice helped the students understand how incredibly cold temperatures can help us see things our naked eyes other wise may not see.
There has been so much we have covered from start to finish.
Day one we covered:
Leading and historical astronomers, as well as long-gone relics that harbored hundreds of years of knowledge like the original Library of Alexandria; creating our own solar trackers using the same methods used to create Stonehenge; studying fiber optics and light by using lasers and the amazing Crookes radiometer to understand thermal and infrared light; and we learned about the wonders of our moon and its 4.6 billion year evolution in the Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium.
Day two we covered:
Creating our own impact craters using various objects with different masses and volumes, also using different measurements of force, to understand how perhaps celestial objects like our own moon look the way we see them today; then venturing to the Northern Skies Observatory to see the impressive 17″ Planewave Dahl-Kirkham reflective telescope; as well as learning about the differences between it being robotically controlled to take astrophotographs versus the telescopes we use to view the night skies, but not without learning about several cool apps that put the feel of a planetarium right in your hands like Stellarium and StarWalk (it was too bad it was raining this night so we couldn’t actually open the dome).
Our slow-motion impact:
Our final third day:
We covered many laws and theories of science, from scholars such as Einstein and Newton, to understand how force, mass, accelerations, inertia, speed of light, and even escape velocity all work; we learned about telescopes used today and telescopes currently being made that help us search for stars, planets, as well as what conditions are like on other closer planets like Mars (like the James Webb Telescope); then we explored the known universe with the amazing app Exoplanet, such as the Trappist-1 systems, to understand why ‘goldilocks zones’ exist; we visited the Lyman Spitzer Jr. Planetarium yet again, to understand the evolution and life cycle of stars, how they form in stellar formations or nebulas, and even touched on that scary and illusive topic: black holes; and we covered how scientists use many different methods to see different particles of radiation as featured above. Lastly, and the final hoorah of the program, we built our own rockets and ventured out to the fields to launch them!
Needless to say, it’s been one wild, space filled week. I missed both the launch of the Cygnus-7 craft and new Expedition Crew 51, but am glad to have heard both Jack and Fyodor have arrived safely to join the International Space Station!
If you would like to see more photographs and even cool videos, check out the blog entries I’ve contributed to the Fairbanks Museum that gives you all those captivating space science thrills!