WENATCHEE — Kids from across the Wenatchee Valley blasted off to Space Camp Friday at the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center.
The museum put four groups of children through astronaut training for one day as part of its new “My Sky” exhibit. Kids got to participate in hands-on activities and learn about the earth, the moon and the sun.
The exhibit itself is a stellar experience with all kinds of cool astronomical facts and information, said Kasey Koski, the museum’s curator of exhibits. The museum is leasing the exhibit from the Boston Children’s Museum and it was created with help from NASA. It features four separate sections that shows how the sun travels around the earth, what to observe in the sky, the phases of the moon, and more.
“Since we have a Mars rover landing last year and it was the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, it was a really great time to bring some enthusiasm back into the space program,” Koski said. “It is cool to be an astronaut again.”
The exhibit includes some pretty neat hands-on activities for kids, including a model of the moon the size of a wrecking ball. The moon is mapped to show all of its craters.
“So you can really come in, sit down, you notice it kind of takes you out of the noise of the rest of the building and the exhibit,” Koski said. “And to really observe the moon, to be able to feel it, see the craters.”
There is also an orrery, a mechanical model, this one built out of a baseball, bicycle parts and tools, that shows the moon’s orbit around the sun. Kids can turn a crank and can see in a screen made to look like a bedroom window the moon wax and wane, she said.
“As we’re getting close to the new moon in the sky you actually see where the shadow of the simulated moon in the orrery crosses the Earth’s orbit,” Koski said. “So it is shading the Earth from the light of the sun and so that is why the new moon happens.”
Norah Endsley, 11, of Wenatchee, participated in Space Camp and said she’s interested in space because her brother wants to be an astronaut and reads a lot of books about space to her. She’s also excited because right now a female astronaut, Christina Koch, is making the longest single spaceflight by a woman ever.
She would like to travel to outer space someday, Norah said, but maybe not anytime soon. “I would want to do it when it is a bit safer or when we figure out a way for communities to go up there,” she said.
One of her fondest memories from learning about space is looking at constellations with her dad on the beaches of Mexico, Norah said, her father pointing out the stars.
“That’s when I started to like this kind of stuff,” she said. “I could see the entire Milky Way and that was just kind of crazy and my dad was just pointing out so many constellations.”
Wyatt Delozier, 9, of Wenatchee said he wants to visit outer space so he can prove the existence of aliens.
“A lot of people at my school think there are no other lifeforms out there and I want to prove that there is,” Wyatt said.
Whatever the reason for exploring the great unknown the museum’s “My Sky” exhibit will provide children and families with an up close experience of those out-of-our-world systems, Koski said.