Childhood curiosity brought to light

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, February 6th, 2019 at 11:42 PM
Childhood curiosity brought to light  by Amber Chisholm
Photo: Amber Chisholm

Children shouted out “stars,” “planets” and “constellations” after being asked what they might see in the night sky at Edinboro University’s planetarium. 

They made these guesses during the “World at Night” planetarium show in Cooper Hall on Jan. 29.

For children ages 1-12, the event included songs and stories by Edinboro professor David Hurd, based on ones he shared with his own sons, or “mill pond” stories as he called them. They played in the background before he began by explaining what a planetarium is and does.

An animated film called “World at Night,” which discussed the lifestyles of various animals that can be found in Presque Isle State Park, was then presented and narrated by “Screepy” the Toad.

The sky then turned dark and kids were instructed to point to the sun before identifying the directions of north, east, south and west.

After counting to 143, Hurd and the kids said goodnight to the sun before viewing the night sky, followed by identifying the Milky Way galaxy along with their first guesses as to what they would see — stars, planets and constellations.

At around 6:45 p.m. the crowd witnessed sunrise, and were encouraged to keep looking up before leaving to explore the biology museum and join a coloring session for a take-home “World at Night Activity Book,” designed by junior illustration major Rayne Burgin. The artist, when asked, said she feels that the activity book gives children the opportunity to take what they learned home with them.

Some stayed behind to ask questions. 

One child wanted to know how the sun moves, to which Hurd explained Earth’s rotation and how the stars remain, given the sun fits that category. 

“How does the Earth move?” and “Is Saturn by Earth?” were two other questions to which Hurd gave answers.

Angela Gast brought her two children, Winston and Gwenna, who got to sit in front of the star projector. 

Winston, a first grader, is currently learning about Jupiter in his class. Gwenna, a fourth grader, liked the night setting better because there is more to see and feels that day is boring.

“We love it. We like Dr. Hurd a lot,” said Gast, as this is not their first show.

A family who brought their two daughters for the first time, one 6 years old and the other a toddler, would encourage others to attend due to the educational and kid-friendly environment.

Another mother, who homeschools her three children, brought her family to the event for community exposure and shared that her kindergarten-aged daughter wants to be an astronaut when she grows up.

Being the first child-focused show for this semester, Hurd feels that it “went really, really well.”

He enjoys presenting to children because when it comes to astronomy, “they’re so excited by anything you give them.” 

There was also a raffle involving a NASA bag bearing the six Apollo landing spots for which a drawing will take place on Feb. 26.

“Legends of the Night Sky” will take place on Feb. 4 at 6 p.m., and another “World at Night” show will be on March 26 with the same time and location.

Amber Chisholm |

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