Rockville Science Day
April 22, 1988 — Rockville Science Day — it was Earth Day, and the City of Rockville was celebrating it with Rockville Science Day for 2018, to promote interest in science. That’s appropriate given how science takes such a beating in the political world. This wonderful celebration was organized by the Rockville Science Center.
Note that Rockville “Science” Day might actually be called by the wider acronym STEM, which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. These are related disciplines that point in much the same direction and that reinforce each other.
Shown here is the welcome tent that people first came to when they came to enjoy the celebrations, which took place at the Rockville Campus of Montgomery College. The tent was staffed by happy and welcoming volunteers of the Rockville Science Center.
Please visit any of the pictures and reports below of Rockville Science Day on this page:
- Welcome Tent
- Opening Ceremonies
- Music of the Spheres
- Hands-on Science for kids: STEM After School Academy
- Hands-on Science for kids: 4-H, Kid Museum, and Gaithersburg Community Museum
- STEM Educational Opportunities
- Robot Demonstrations
- Promoting and Teaching Robotics
- Flying STEM
- Biology — Birds, Reptiles, and Mammals
- Biology — Humans, DNA, and germs
- STEM History
Rockville Science Day happens every year because of the dedication of volunteers and of the community coming together to make it happen. There are people who are deeply committed to science and want others to appreciate it too.
Most of the volunteers were wearing the orange “I Do Science For Fun” T-shirts.
Naturally, no big community event would be complete without some pomp. To kick off Rockville Science Day, we sang the National Anthem, posted the colors, and retired the guard with military dignity. We then enjoyed speeches by the Chair of the Rockville Science Center and by the Mayor of Rockville … and the press were there to cover the action.
Music of the Spheres
“We learn in moments of pleasure,” and that was certainly true on Rockville Science Day. And, of course, music is quite pleasurable, so we all enjoyed the Kentland’s Acoustic Jam Band. There was a “Bach to Rock” table offering music lessons, and near the entrance, kids could help Organ Grinder Lola make music. There were of course also some science projects where kids explored music in an experimental way.
You may note my odd reference to “music of the spheres,” which in medieval times referred to the irregular and mysterious motion of the planets and stars in the sky. Some early astronomers got into trouble with the law for suggesting that the complex “music” could be simplified by considering the possibility that the earth rotated on its axis while it revolved around the sun.
Since then, we have also found the many connections between music and math and science, particularly physics.
Hands-on Science for kids: STEM After School Academy
Rockville Science Day focused on kids. These kids were not just learning about engineering, they were actively building things like towers and radios at the booth for the “STEM After School Academy,” which offers after school programs and a summer camp. I wish I were a kid again.
A representative from the Academy provided assistance to the kids to ensure their success with the projects. The zip-lock bag contained all the stuff needed to build an FM radio, which can be seen being successfully used. On the table are a variety of Academy kits.
Hands-on Science for kids: 4-H, Kid Museum, and Gaithersburg Community Museum
Rockville Science Day provided opportunities for youth. The 4-H Club got into the act, with its “Inventor’s Club,” exploring physics and creativity. “The Kid Museum had a popular table too, as well as the Gaithersburg Community Museum’s sun-dial making, which was also an activity that the museum provided at the Eclipse Party that it sponsored.
Rockville Science Day helped youth to get interested in STEM, and to see it as an interesting career choice. Opportunities for STEM education for kids as well as for adults were available. The Barnes & Noble company had materials, including the “STEAM Education” program. The Montgomery County Public Library also had educational materials for home and school, to be used to demonstrate various science concepts. The Scouts and the Pursuing A Dream Corporation both promote interest among youth learning about STEM, with a possibility of going into the field. There was also a local dramatic group rehearsing for their playing of “Radium Girls,” about a time when people were careless about radioactivity safety issues.
Rockville Science Day had a space where robots were doing work, picking up blocks and moving them. Other robots, however, had seemingly lost it, and were running back and forth, frenetically spinning like tops, or just sitting there trying to regain their composure.
Actually, I don’t think these are robots in a strict sense … they are really ground-based drones, since they are not self-directed, but rather are remotely directed by radio-control.
Promoting and Teaching Robotics
At Rockville Science Day, a lot of people were there promoting robotics, including a successful robotics team from Rockville High School that presented. Two robots were competing on green cloth to attract attention to “BeSTEM! Robotics Summer Camp.” Also doing their thing were robotics scientists associated with 4-H/Adventure in Science, Inc..
It was up up and away at Rockville Science Day. A drone table got some attention, but the biggest attraction was the NARHAMS Model Rocket Club that made a splash. You can see some of their special rockets, but the real attraction was the opportunity for kids to become rocket scientists and make their own rockets from supplied kits with expert help available … and fly them too.
Biology — Birds, Reptiles, and Mammals
Rockville Science Day was for the birds … and reptiles, and even mammals. John Celia was showing off his beautiful and intelligent homing pigeons, who always know their way home. “Reptile Wonders” was also well represented by snakes, a blue-tongued skink who most enjoyed snuggling, and some lovely and friendly tortoises. People had the opportunity to touch and be touched by the snakes. “Echoes of Nature” included both snakes and mammals.
Biology — Humans, DNA, and germs
Rockville Science Day also focused on humans. Shady Grove Medical Center showed visitors inside themselves with sonograms, while the University of Maryland displayed a popular item: real human brains. There was an opportunity to synthesize DNA with beads, while Sanaria, Inc., educated us about malaria eradication.
Rockville Science Day offered a glimpse of the heavens. Skip Bird of the Westminster Astronomical Society Inc., demonstrates the creation of a “dirty snowball” comet before your very eyes, while his “minions” assist with viewing the sun with telescopes. The tops of these telescopes have special filters to protect your eyes; don’t do this at home.
Rockville Science Day provided an opportunity to learn about archeology. Montgomery County Parks gave kids the opportunity to experience archeology first hand, with reference to a place called “Seneca Store.” They sifted through sand, they detailed analyses of the contents of soil, and pieced together pottery fragments to give life to a story of yesteryear that could only be told this way.
And, Rockville Science Day also looked at the STEM of yesterday. By the sidewalk, under a tent, was a Civil War field hospital. Historian Clarence Hickey played Dr. Edward Stonestreet, a Rockville doctor, explaining the state of medicine. Also on the sidewalk was a solor oven, both old and new technology. In the room with the robots was an old-timers electronics display.