Celebrating the Holidays with an Aspen Science Center Festival


Jessica Tyler

One of the student at the Holiday Festival plays with synthetic snow at the diorama making station.

Curious kids of all ages filled the Aspen Middle School cafeteria on December 10 where they crafted perfume through scientific bonding, shook bags filled with milk and ice to make ice cream, and decorated stockings, in celebration of science and the upcoming holidays.

In the Aspen Science Center’s (ASC) second year hosting the event, people from the Aspen community came to learn about scientific concepts, while crafting gifts for their friends and family for over the holidays. There were twelve different stations, an increase from last year’s ten, and people who attended could choose tables to visit during the two-hour festival. Stations ranged from the science of medicine to ice cream making, and AMS seventh grade science teacher Peter Hanson gave a demonstration on the science of waves during the middle portion of the fest. Excitement was tangible during the presentation, as sound waves echoed through string telephone lines, and fire illuminated the stage while Hanson presented.

Approximately fifty kids crafted stockings, recorded holiday messages with their sound waves, and learned about the science of snowmaking.

“This years’ festival included a fantastic variety of science activities and showed how science is a part of almost everything in our world,” said Jackie Francis, Executive Director of the Aspen Science Center (and my mother).

Many local organizations donated time and resources to the event, including AHS volunteers.

“I liked being able to work with kids, and I even learned a few new things while volunteering at the Holiday Festival,” junior Kim Sandbach said.

Participants wandered around the festival, but students could always be found shaking bags of milk to make ice cream, playing with orbs that rolled around ground, and crafting dioramas or stockings based on the holidays.

“Different areas of expertise made this event possible and incredibly unique. The Science Center is very grateful for everyone’s participation during the festival and all of our sponsors, which made the event a reality,” Francis said.

Hanson has been helping at many Science Center events. At the Holiday fest, he conducted the stage show.

“Teaching kids new things and appreciation for the world around them is probably my favorite part about working with kids, and science is important for understanding things around us, so I enjoy helping them become knowledgeable adults,” Hanson said.

The holiday fest is one of the Science Center’s many programs throughout the year. During the summer, the organization runs multiple events each week, including their biggest event this year, the Science Street Fair.

“One of our main goals is to help people understand that science doesn’t have to be intimidating,” Francis said. “We hope that through exposing kids to science early on it becomes natural to them throughout their lives.”

Currently, the Science Center is working on becoming the new tenants of the Old Powerhouse, formally the Aspen Art Museum. Last November, the Citizens committee, appointed by city council, chose the Aspen Science Center as a finalist for the space.

Now ASC is drafting a final proposal and the ultimate decision for who will become the organization in charge of the space is anticipated for sometime this spring.

Hopeful that the ASC will find a home, the organization plans to host even more events in 2015, beginning with the winter physics cafés. These begin Wednesday, January 7, and continue through March 25.

“This year was an amazing year of growth and fantastic support. We look forward to a spectacular new year,” Francis said. “We’re happy the holiday fest ended the year on such a high note.”