BYU-Idaho’s Physics Department will be hosting an AstroFest Day on Saturday, June 9, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Jacob Spori Quad.
According to BYU-I’s event page, this is a family-friendly event, with science, technology, engineering, arts and math activities for children. This includes an investigation of lunar and meteorite samples with Karen Roark, the Education Professional Development coordinator at NASA Ames Research Center, engineering challenges, virtual reality videos, and UV bead bracelets and rockets.
Natalie Macbeth, an administrative assistant in the Design and Construction Management Department and a senior studying biology education, said they are still choosing the engineering activity. But she said it will be a hands-on activity for kids, like building a robotic arm out of wire and rubber bands, or a Mars lander out of paper cups.
She also said kids can also earn an AstroFest embroidered patch by participating in the activities.
Macbeth is helping to organize the event with the help of physics and education majors and as a Solar System Ambassador. Last fall, NASA accepted her as a Solar System Ambassador.
According to NASA, ambassadors are volunteers who organize events to inform the public about new science and discoveries.
Macbeth said AstroFest is a continuation of the event the Physics Department put on last year before the eclipse.
The AstroFest will begin with a presentation by Stephen McNeil, chair of the Physics Department, on the seven experiments BYU-I participated in during 2017’s solar eclipse. This will take place in the George S. Romney Building 172 at 10 a.m.
McNeil said one of the experiments was listening to how sounds changed during totality, especially animal sounds. One of the other physics professors even recorded the sounds around his beehive during the eclipse. As the sun disappeared behind the moon, the bees returned to the hive like it was night, then left again after the sun returned.
In his presentation, McNeil will talk about a few other experiments and show videos created from photos taken from a high altitude balloon during the eclipse.
McNeil said the most important part of AstroFest will be the activities happening afterward because they are a great outreach opportunity for the community to learn more about science.
A presentation on how to safely view the sun through telescopes will follow McNeil’s presentation in the Spori Quad at 10:30 a.m.
Another activity for children includes four planetarium shows, shown in Romney 107. The shows and times are “Perfect Little Planet” at 10:45 a.m., “Exploding Universe” at 11:30 a.m., “Totality” at 12:15 p.m. and “Black Holes” at 1 p.m.
According to Macbeth, Roark will host a free workshop on Saturday from 3 to 6 p.m. in Romney 179. Students can be certified to borrow and handle authentic lunar samples from NASA.
According to NASA, the certification is intended for teaching in classrooms, museums, libraries or planetariums.
The workshop is specifically for education majors, but interested students should contact Natalie Macbeth at email@example.com for more information and to sign up.
Macbeth said the Physics Department is hoping to make BYU-I’s AstroFest an annual event.