“Here we are. You see these two large books? I’ve put the pages back and forth and intermixed them together. There is a force that exists between them called friction. If you rub your hands together you can feel friction yes? If it wasn’t for friction nothing would move,” said Dean Howarth in a British accent to two young attendees while portraying Sir Isaac Newton. Howarth, a Physics teacher and a member of the Friends of the Arlington Planetarium Board of Directors can regularly be seen in Northern Virginia portraying icons from the worlds of Astronomy and Physics.
“Now try to pull the two books apart from opposite ends with this rope,” Howarth prompted the two boys as they pulled the books with all of their strength unsuccessfully trying to separate them. “The books are being held together simply by their friction. As you can see two adults can’t pull them apart either,” he continued using another adult for the same demonstration.
From Sept. 18-20, the Friends of the David M. Brown Arlington Planetarium hosted their first weekend of programming for the 2015-16 school year, a fundraising and membership festival. The festival took place on the afternoon of Saturday, Sept. 19 on the plaza just outside of the planetarium. On Friday, Sept. 18 and Sunday, Sept. 20, full dome digital shows were run inside the planetarium.
There were host of activities at the Saturday festival. In addition to Sir Isaac Newton’s multiple astronomy and physics demonstrations, there was a rocket launch demonstration (using baking soda and vinegar), and a STEAM related activity titled “Scaling of the Solar System”. Lastly there was a booth for making ice cream using liquid nitrogen. As the many activities took place on the plaza, local musician Rick Franklin played blues music, and free digital shows were shown in the planetarium courtesy of the Arlington Public School system. Later on that evening, the audience for the show Natural Selection (hosted by the Friends), was treated to a talk by another member of the Friends’ Board of Directors, Raphael Perrino who gave a short lecture on Space Policy and the future of the International Space Station.
The Friends will host special events at the David M. Brown Arlington Planetarium one weekend every month until the end of the school year. Each weekend will be geared towards increasing STEM education/awareness for all ages and will feature a specific theme. The weekends for the 2015-16 school year are as follows:
• October- Rockets & Spaceflight
• November- Carl Sagan Tribute
• December- Members Thank You
• January- Time & Calendars
• February- Darwin Day & Evolution
• March- Science Fiction Festival
• April- Human Space Exploration
• May- Transits & Eclipses
• June- The Planets
The David M. Brown Arlington Planetarium is one of only remaining free standing Planetariums in the United States, and the programs shown are a really good vehicles for getting youngsters interested in STEM fields. For more information, visit the Friends’ website: http://friendsoftheplanetarium.org. The theme of the Friends’ October weekend at the planetarium will be Rockets & Space Flight.