Pick up almost any object, and it’s a case study in physics, says Robert Gist, a senior instructor in the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs’ Physical and Energy Sciences Department.
A bike wheel held upright by rotational momentum; a clock’s pendulum kept swinging by Earth’s gravitational force; a pair of headphones using magnetism to project music.
“Some of the best toys are the ones that blow our mind,” Gist said.
At Saturday’s Cool Science Carnival Day, 6,000 people spent the afternoon learning from people like Gist at one of 60 exhibits, demonstrations and activities. The day was the first of nine in the ninth annual Cool Science Festival aimed at introducing kids to science, technology, engineering, art and technology (STEAM).
The Colorado Springs Astronomical Society pointed visitors’ eyes to the skies. The organization set up telescopes that use a filter to display the spectrum of colors of the sun’s rays and explained the effects of ultraviolet radiation by making bracelets with ultraviolet detecting beads.
The awe in the kids’ (and adults’) eyes when the beads changed color or the sun’s blinding rays became a swath of colors proves to David Warner year after year that the demonstrations leave their mark on each participant.
“Whether it’s watching the light bulb click on after an explanation of the science or watching them making the UV bead bracelets, that excitement is what keeps us coming back,” the director of outreach for the Astronomical Society said.
Brett Kennedy, chair of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society’s southeastern chapter, sees early education as the best way to influence change.
“You can’t always teach an old dog new tricks, but you can always inspire the youth,” he said.
CRES had three stations, luring in participants with s’mores baked with solar energy. Kennedy then explains the science behind solar panels and the process of transitioning to clean energy at home.
He hopes the seed he plants could inspire some to become the engineer that “designs something even better” than what is available today or an active voice in decomissioning the coal-fired Martin Drake Power Plant in downtown Colorado Springs.
“The youngest generation gets it,” he said. “They may not get the specifics of the technology now, but they’re gathering the right tools.”
Saturday’s carnival was the first day of the nine-day, free festival, which includes guided nature hikes, stargazing with astronomers, beer and wine brewing and cave tours.
For the full schedule of events this week, go to https://www.coolscience.org/cool- science-festival.html.
Twitter: @lizmforster Phone: 636-0193