[media-credit id=109 align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]While children are out of school for the summer, the Ott Planetarium is hosting Science in the Park to help them learn about science through a series of activities.
Science in the Park was started in 2007, and has been running through the summer of every year since.
“We found these parks where there’s already an extension of the school lunch programs,” said Adam Johnston, Weber State University physics professor. Johnston helped come up with the idea to reach out to the Ogden community by bringing science to parks with schools in the areas.
Ottreach is the program that runs these activities. The program has gone to different parks each week and set up different tables for activities that children can take part in. Each day of the week features different themes, such as Hear It, See It, Build It, Move It or Feel It.
The program has attracted volunteers each year, whether it be for a week or on certain days.
“We just need people who will play with kids,” Johnston said. He said a lot of the volunteers are education majors looking to gain experience with children.
“We get about 100-200 kids a day,” Johnston said. The estimate is based on how many supplies they use, and the turnout depends a lot on the parks or the day of the week. Johnston said Feel It Day, which is on Friday, attracts more people.
Some activities involve playing with lenses, building boats, doing math activities, rocket launching or playing with slime.
“It’s meant to be things that you could be fascinated with if you were 3 or if you were 30,” Johnston said.
Johnston said while he’s busy with other projects, he can hand off the program to students to run it.
“It’s fun to see what works with the kids in the parks, but also with the volunteers,” Johnston said.
While Johnston is busy doing the paperwork, the volunteers are busy keeping the program going.
“Kids get really excited about science,” said Michele “Mike” Warby, a student at WSU. Warby said parents love the program, having something for the children to come to and have hands-on experiences.
“I would love to get more publicity out,” Warby said. She said there hasn’t been enough publicity with the community. She’s had families come to the park and say they have never heard about it.
Warby is in her fourth year of the program, and is helped by Anthea Stevens, a WSU student majoring in chemistry teaching.
“I think it’s really fun to come out and set up our stuff and say to the kids, ‘All right, go play!'” Stevens said.
Warby said about half the volunteers are college students, and the other half is people from the community.
“Parents will say, ‘Hey, that would be fun to come and help out,'” Stevens said.
Both Warby and Stevens said they would definitely take in more volunteers.
“We’ll take anyone who wants to participate,” Warby said.
The program is in its last week at West Ogden Park, and will be be started back up in June of 2013.