Children were launching small rockets and naming the planets Wednesday at the Great Bend Public Library, where a presenter from the Mad Science education group talked about “Walking on the Moon.”
“It was 50 years ago, on July 20th, that we first landed a man on the moon,” children were told. He talked about some of the science and calculations that went into the launch, starting with Project Mercury, where John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth. That was followed by Project Gemini, which carried a two-man crew, and the Apollo missions. Apollo 11’s three-man crew was launched into space on July 16, 1969, and landed back in the Pacific Ocean on July 4.
Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin both walked on the moon, while Command Module Pilot Michael Collins remained in the command service module. According to the NASA website, an estimated 650 million people watched Armstrong’s televised image and heard his voice describe the event as he took “...one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
“Each time we went up, we learned more and more about space,” the Mad Science presenter said.
“Some of the stuff I brought with me today ... Could ... Be .. Dangerous!” he warned. The rules of a Mad Scientist are to listen, be safe and have fun. With lots of hands-on demonstrations of scientific principles, that were many opportunities for audience participation.
He also asked the children to name the planets. With one child representing each of the eight planets — Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune — and a ninth child representing Pluto, he placed them in order and demonstrated the relative distances of the planets from the Sun.
The kids were able to come up with all nine planet names, with some hooting and protests over Pluto’s status since it is now considered only a “dwarf planet.”
That’s OK, the speaker said. “This is a debate that scientists are still having. And scientists are now discovering more and more dwarf planets.”
It seems as if something special is going on at the Great Bend Public Library almost every day during the summer. This year’s summer reading program is called “A Universe of Stories,” and on Saturday the StoneLion Puppet Theater will present “Starry Starry Night” at 10:30 a.m.
This past Tuesday, the library’s Teen Spot staff invited students to create a way for an egg to survive a 30-foot drop. Their creations were supposed to rely primarily on parachutes but could include some padding. Three students took the challenge and when they were done they were taken outside where a cherry picker operator was waiting to drop the eggs from 30 feet onto the library lawn. It wasn’t until the eggs were dropped onto the parking lot that they actually broke.
Librarian Haylee Huddleston said all three survived and there were kudos to participants Sheridan Johnson, age 11, for the best-looking parachute; Rachael McReynolds, 11, for the fastest landing; and Abiram Madrid, 13, who arrived late but still finished the project with a successful landing.