When Ms. Amanda brought out the Oreo cookies one Tuesday afternoon, the kids thought they were getting a special snack. It was a treat, not for their tummies, but for their minds. The Mills site director had plans to use the popular sandwich cookies to represent the moon, shaping them to demonstrate its different phases.
Each Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Amanda teaches lessons like this as part of Space Camp.
“It’s important to expose kids to science and astronomy because it’s difficult to cultivate an appreciation for things they have no understanding of, like galaxies or black holes,” said Amanda. “If we can foster an understanding of space, we are inspiring future astronauts and physicists.”
Through weekly lessons, she’s been able to use simple items in hands-on lessons to show various dynamics of planets, stars, and space. They have studied how stars create energy through nuclear fusion by bonding balls of clay together. During a lesson on Venus’ runaway greenhouse affect, the kids created a greenhouse in a jar and discovered how certain elements can create an atmosphere that traps in heat. To learn more about Mercury, they experimented with craters, making impact on a pan of flour using different objects like pool balls, marbles, and balloons.
“They are studying stars that are light years away, exploring planets and can use the information they gained to make life on Earth better,” explains Amanda.
Space Camp grew out of Amanda’s own passion for astronomy. With that interest and knowledge, the Mills Club is able to offer a unique STEM program for youth.
Ms. Amanda shares, “There is something humbling about knowing that in the vastness of our universe, we live in the one place that not only allows us to live, but to dream and create.”
The Mills Club is partnering with the Casper Planetarium for “To the Moon and Back” Family Night on Monday, March 21 from 7 – 8 p.m. Families will have the chance to explore the moon and the night sky through telescopes and other fun activities. The event is free for anyone to attend.