Feature

Text Size

Young Minds Reach for the Stars at Science Festival
03.03.11
 
Reachout for the Rainbow After School Science Festival Click image for full-resolution.
The hovercrafts were powered by leaf blowers instead of rocket fuel.
Image credit: NASA/Dominic Hart

Reachout for the Rainbow After School Science Festival Click image for full-resolution.
Stomp rockets were a popular activity for those with lots of energy to burn.
Image credit: NASA/Dominic Hart

Reachout for the Rainbow After School Science Festival Click image for full-resolution.
Students were able to imagine how astronauts collected moon rocks with a lunar rover.
Image credit: NASA/Dominic Hart
More than 1,200 young students and their parents had a unique opportunity to experience science in action during an event in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco on Feb. 27, 2011.

The festival was an opportunity for little girls and boys to dream big about one day becoming an astronaut or a NASA rocket scientist and inspire young minds in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

As part of its 10th anniversary celebration, the Reachout for the Rainbow Science Festival included many interactive exhibits from the Traveling Space Museum, including a hovercraft powered by leaf blowers, a space shuttle simulator and a space toilet.

Students had an opportunity to design their own space mission patch, launch small rockets and operate lunar rover replicas. The San Francisco Exploratorium and the Museum of African American Technology (MAAT) Science Village contributed exhibits featuring a historical perspective of African-American scientists and a light spectrum color wall.

NASA astronaut Yvonne Cagle shared her experiences about her education and training to become an astronaut and Patricia Gray, assistant superintendent for the San Francisco School District, spoke to the crowd about the value of education. As part of Black History Month activities, students from the Market Street Children’s Choir enchanted the audience with their stirring renditions of several popular songs.

Ames Center Director Pete Worden and Deputy Director Lewis Braxton told the students that NASA is looking for its workforce of the future and encouraged the students to study hard.

“These kids are really pumped. When you’re 5, 6, 7 years old, you look at this and say, I want to do that,” Worden said. “Sometimes, just looking at a display or talking to somebody, you just see them light up. They go back and they have a whole different attitude about school and studying and about their future.”

 
 
Cathy Weselby
Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, Calif.