Satellites have been invisibly spinning, whirling and orbiting around our world since Russia’s Sputnik first blinked about the planet decades ago.
Local youths can learn about the various pieces of hardware orbiting the Earth at the traveling A View From Space’ exhibit from the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) in Portland set up through Sept. 3 at Columbia Basin College.
The exhibit includes several hands-on displays suitable for school-age children.
“Even adults will enjoy the displays,” Lara Hastings of Pasco said. She’s spearheaded the drive to bring the exhibit to the Tri-Cities, hoping to find out if the region would again support a children’s museum.
“There was one here several years ago. It was in several locations; I think housed in donated buildings and spaces, but it closed quite a while ago,” Hastings said.
She and her husband, Colin, always seek out children’s museums on their travels to keep their two sons Clete, 8, and Cale, 7, entertained.
“We were at the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia one day — it’s fabulous — and I said to Colin, ‘why don’t we have one in the Tri-Cities?’ He said, ‘you can either complain or do something about it,’” Lara Hastings said.
So she did, contacting her friends, along with the associates Colin has made as the executive director of the Pasco Chamber of Commerce, and their contacts through Colin’s father, former Congressman Doc Hastings.
Hands In for Hands On Tri-Cities, or HiHo, which started with four board members but has grown to eight, has support from the Three Rivers Community Foundation and other organizations, including Rotary and Kiwanis.
One of the people Lara Hastings contacted was Rich Cummins, president of Columbia Basin College.
“He was a huge advocate. He donated two classrooms next to the Bechtel National Planetarium on the CBC campus for our use for the summer,” she said.
“Our goal is to eventually have 1,500 square feet for a year-round, interactive exhibit.”
Hastings said the goal is to incorporate many different disciplines — math, science and art. “We want to spin off in many different directions,” she said. “My main focus is to foster childrens’ curiosity. That’s something they will enjoy the rest of their lives and will inspire them to keep learning.”
Hastings said this summer will show how well the concept of a children’s museum would work in the Mid-Columbia.
“We’re taking baby steps. Likely we’ll need to find a new space next year but there are a lot of different groups interested in helping,” Hastings said.
The group raised $17,000 to bring the space exhibit to the Tri-Cities and volunteers put it together at the end of June.
To make the classrooms look more inviting, the art club students at New Horizons High School in Pasco built and painted a series of ‘spacetacular’ murals to line the classrooms.
The Hands In for Hands On Tri-Cities Museum is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursdays and from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
In addition to OMSI’s A View From Space exhibit, other groups and non-profit organizations like SCRAP Tri-Cities, 4-H groups, ACT with their Jedi Academy and the Mid-Columbia Library will be giving presentations on Saturday mornings from 12:15-1 p.m. for 4- to 8-year-olds and 1:15-2 p.m. for 9- to 14-year-olds.
The museum is open each Thursday and Saturday through Sept. 3.
Admission to the museum is $4 for those age 4 and older and free for those age 3 and younger.
The Columbia Basin College planetarium is also open, with presentations at 10 and 11 a.m. on Thursdays and 2 and 3 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission to the planetarium is separate from the museum: children 6 to 12 cost $3, those age 5 and younger are free, adults from age 13 to 59 cost $6, and seniors admission is $5.
The planetarium is in the D Building on the CBC Pasco campus. From Argent Road, enter the Pasco CBC campus via Farm Road and follow the blue and white signs to the planetarium.
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