With blow-up planets, an assortment of activities and a short presentation, the University of Oregon Museum of Natural and Cultural History taught youth in the area about space, Earth and our place in the universe.
Glendale, Roseburg and Sutherlin were among the 102 Oregon libraries that the museum’s traveling outreach program will visit this summer. For the past four years, the museum has built presentations coinciding with the theme of the Collaborative Summer Library Program. This year’s theme is “A Universe of Stories.”
“Since this year’s theme is space, we geared it towards space but also we are a natural history museum and we wanted to bring it back to why Earth is such a special planet,” said presenter Alexandria Roullier said.
“Our Place in Space” is an exploration of how Earth fits in among stars, galaxies and other planets. Roullier’s presentation taught a little about each of the eight planets in the solar system as well as addressed what makes Earth so different from other planets.
Titus Jacobs, 10, was eager to volunteer during the Roseburg presentation, zooming to each planet in his special space suit and laminated rocket. His favorite planet is Mars.
“I thought of a special way to get to Mars,” Titus said. “We could build a rocket that could go 200,000 miles per hour!”
Titus said he is already working on a rocket that will take him to Mars in the next year.
Titus also said he didn’t know that Jupiter acted as a shield for Earth, while his 7-year-old brother Liam said he learned other planets didn’t have oxygen.
Accompanying the presentation was a variety of science experiments and hands-on activities. Guests raced the clock, and each other, to see who could remove the most trash from a pool filled with plastic bags, cups, straws and stuffed sea life.
Another station allowed children to pull sticks labeled with different animals and plants from a mesh cylinder. Held up by the sticks were balls shaped like the Earth. Each time a stick was removed, the balls fell. The idea was to show how interwoven everything on Earth is and how the loss of biodiversity hurts everyone.
“Most experiments/demonstrations had to do with what we can do to help save the resources on our planet, which I feel is very important,” Glendale Community Library Director Betsie Aman said. “Hopefully the takeaway from this presentation is to see that we have many renewable resources that can be explored and implemented, and some ways that we can save the environment by the conservation of these resources.”
Other stations showed the difference between renewable and non-renewable energy, gravity, water, fossil fuels and recycling.
“Every station and all the lessons we teach had something to teach every level of kid,” Roullier said. “It’s a good, broad representation of what we should be thinking about and hopefully planting that seed in kids to be more thoughtful humans on our Earth.”
For the Sutherlin Library, the presentation marked the end of its Summer Reading Program.
“The children and their parents had a great time interacting together working at the various stations,” Sutherlin children’s librarian Nancy Anderson said. “The library presented each child with a book that reflected the summer’s reading theme.”
Roullier said she hopes each attendee learns that their actions matter.
“Small actions, positive or negative, have an accumulative effect,” Roullier said. “Even you, as a kid or a parent or whoever you are in this world, your actions have an impact.”