The Science in the Parks program will be held for the fifth consecutive summer during the months of June and July, in an effort to educate children and families in the community on science.
Adam Johnston, a Weber State University physics professor, began the program in 2007.
Assisting Johnston is Sharon Gatrell, a music major, as this year’s student director of
In the first year, only a few staff members helped out and the program only
reached three parks. For the second year, the program made it to four parks. The program proved to be so popular that from the third year on, the program expanded to six parks throughout the
The program heavily relies on volunteers of all majors, from teaching to music. There have also been a variety of sponsors for the program, including the WSU Ott Planetarium and Center for Science and Math Education, the Ogden school district’s free lunch program, Weber County R.A.M.P., and Utah’s Families Foundation.
“The reason we go to the parks in Ogden is that that’s where the kids are,” Gatrell said. “Ogden City School District provides free lunch for kids in the parks in the summer, so we grab all of our stuff and take it there while the kids are there from 11:30 to 1 p.m. It is such a great way to reach these inner-city kids, who mostly would not be able to come up to the
university for any other kind of summer camp if we held one.”
Gatrell said the directors add new and exciting activities every year so the children will want to come back the next year and learn more.
Debby Cannon, a Syracuse city resident, said this year is the third year she has brought her two boys to Science in the Parks.
“I read about it in the newspaper, and we came and loved it,” Cannon said. “It’s something different to get out and do.”
Cannon’s 6-year-old son Cade said he likes going to the science days. Part of the event included making tornadoes with two 2-liter bottles filled with water and taped together so children could learn about gravity and that spinning the bottles allows a path for the air to trade places with the water.
“I made a tornado for my fifth birthday,” Cade said. “I didn’t know about the path, though.”
Michele Warby, a senior majoring in physics teaching, said she has been helping with the program for three years.
“I came out the first year just to see what it was like,” Warby said. “It’s a great experience. The kids enjoy it, the volunteers enjoy it, and it’s a great way to spend your summer. If I’m still in Ogden next year, I’ll definitely volunteer again.”
Warby said the program runs for a week at each park, with a different theme every day.
“Each day there’s a different theme,” Warby said. “Today was ‘build it,’ so we made tinfoil boats, tornadoes, made fans spin with a generator, and played with magnets. Later this week we’ll work with lenses, and even ‘oobleck’.”
The program will continue through the middle of July. The tour will continue at Monroe Park through July 1, then move to Jaycee Park July 5-8, West Ogden Park June 11-15, and finish off the summer at Marshall White Park July 18-22.