Ott Planetarium hosts Science Saturday

[media-credit name=”Amanda Lewark” align=”alignright” width=”200″][/media-credit]

Many families spent a snowy afternoon at Ott Planetarium’s Science Saturday this weekend.

Science Saturday is held every second Saturday at Weber State University’s Ott Planetarium. The planetarium offers free planetarium shows, free museum admission and free hands-on science activities geared for families.

The planetarium originally began Science Saturday three years ago as a summer program. However, it was so popular that they decided to expand it year round.

“Science Saturday is to show the public that science is fun, approachable and for everyone,” said Amy Jo Proctor, deputy planetarium director.

The planetarium offered 10 different shows for families to watch as well as numerous activities provided by students from the science departments.

The Ott Planetarium at WSU has been producing original digital planetarium shows since 2005. At that time, they updated a digital star projector that enabled them to project video onto the entire dome. “It was pretty remarkable at the time,” said Ron Proctor, production coordinator, “but most planetariums do it now.”

The first show that was made was a short illustrated animation. They then went on to make a feature length production titled The Great Space Race.  The planetarium sells these shows to an international market that provides funds for them to make more products.

WSU students who work for the planetarium are able to help make these productions. Sharon Datuin was able to help with a number of productions.

“I am usually up in the planetarium, and we just released a new show that we produced, Star Hunting with Messier,” Datuin said. “I like to see the kids get excited about the show because I helped make it.”

Students from different science departments provide the science activities.

Students Albert Wint and Jasmine McBride from the respiratory therapy department were there to show kids what smoking does to lungs. They brought two pairs of pigs’ lungs. One was a set of healthy pink lungs, and the other was an unhealthy, black set of lungs that had been exposed to second-hand smoke.  They hooked the lungs to a pump to show the kids how difficult it was to breathe with an unhealthy set of lungs.

“Science Saturdays are a really awesome way for kids to get out of the house to do something productive, especially in this snowy weather,” McBride said.

The American Medical Student Association made a maze out of cardboard boxes to show the kids how the heart works.

“I wish I would have known about this stuff when I was a kid,” said Taylor Norton, a pre-medical student. “I have just as much fun as the kids do.”

Some of the kids said they were having fun.

“It’s awesome!” said three-year-old Maxwell Braun about the heart maze. He said his favorite activity was outer space. He said he also liked the rocks and the dinosaurs.

His father, Michael Braun, said they love Science Saturday. He said they come all the time, and they like to keep Maxwell learning about science.

Other activities included Color pH-un from the chemistry department, Hovercrafts and Float Your Boat from the physics department, Happy Mouths from the pre-dental department, Rocks Rock!, from the geoscience department, Botany Fun from the botany department, the Volta Experiment from the microbiology department and astronomy.

The next Science Saturday will be held on Dec. 10 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.