Astrofest educates and inspires children and adults

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Adults and children alike had fun and became more familiar with the universe and scientific principals at Astrofest 2012.

Hosted by the Department of Physics and Astronomy and BYU Astronomical Society, this year’s Astrofest had 2200 participants according to Maureen Hintz, an astronomer, instructor and volunteer.

Logan Christiansen, a BYU student who participated in Astrofest said he was impressed with the turnout.

“I feel grateful to see how much people have been putting into this,” Christiansen said. “There are so many people participating in it.”

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A father helps his daughter look at the sun through a special telescope at Astrofest
Volunteers, like Ward Greenhalgh, worked intensively to guide and help parents and children.

“I volunteer to help kids learn how exciting space is,” Greenhalgh said. “I didn’t know how amazing it was until college. I want to help the kids learn about it earlier than I did.”

Indoors, parents helped their children build rockets, fold paper airplanes and make stars wheels.

There were also physics and acoustic demonstrations in several rooms of the Eyring Center where children’s eyes filled with amazement and curiosity.

“Science is exciting and it is not boring” said Grant Brown, a volunteer and senior studying biochemistry. “By teaching our children in their youth that science matters and having a well informed opinion on subjects, we can avoid creating the scientific illiterate mass that is clogging our social systems today.”

Outdoors, children explored “Mars” by climbing the tall rock wall and lunched their rockets higher than the Kimball Tower.

“The best thing about Astrofest was watching the kids shoot the rockets out by the JFSB,” Greenhalgh said.

On the fourth floor of the Eyring Center, there were long lines to participate in the planetarium shows. April Phillips and her son Stephen were among those waiting in line.

“We were thrilled for the opportunity to go to the planetarium for free,” Phillips said. “Stephen especially loved it. He has wanted to become an astronaut since he was three.”

Phillips said people should never assume a child cannot understand something or will not be interested.

“The planetarium show was perfect — complex enough to teach but simple enough so that our kids still understand what they were talking about,” Phillips said.

At the deck, the solar telescope display was one of the most popular activities since people wanted to become more familiar with the partial solar eclipse happening Sunday evening.

Guests had the chance to see the sun and its sunspots through a special telescope and received solar viewing glasses to safely see the partial solar eclipse .

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