Second View

A Summer of Discovery for Families

Written by: developer

This month’s Second View is by Karla Probert, wife of Space Foundation Vice President – Education and Discovery Iain Probert.

Early Sunday morning last week, our 8-year-old daughter sat on the couch recounting the highlights of her summer break. This was an unprompted discussion, she was simply sitting there reflecting on how fast the summer has gone by and what, to her, were the most interesting things that happened.

Her top ten list: watching a Cool Science® magic show; driving underwater robots; launching stomp rockets; interacting with characters from her favorite movies such as Star Wars and WALL-E; creating each of the Moon phases out of Oreo cookies; having her face painted; playing games such as recycle toss and lunar golf; chatting with four astronauts; jumping around in a Moon blast bounce house; and letting her creativity flow with a variety of art projects that changed weekly.

Our summer activities didn’t just hold interest for our 8-year-old. Our 10-year-old daughter was equally engaged and excited this summer, but by slightly different things such as programming a rover to work its way through a maze; dissecting a squid; designing, building and launching an “egg-straordinary” Mars Lander.

Normally, to plan this incredible variety of activities for our girls, I would be driving from pillar to post. In fact, I would usually have to drive the 60+ miles north to Denver at least a few times. Not this year. Instead, we stayed within 15 minutes of our house. So where did we go? As the family of the Space Foundation’s Vice President of Education and Discovery Iain Probert, we were lucky enough to attend each of their 10 weeks of Summer of Discovery sessions.

I can tell you from first-hand experience that this was well and truly a family event with each of us (not just the children, by any means), finding things to keep us entertained for sometimes literally hours:

  • Inspirational speakers and fascinating lectures covering an amazing array of topics
  • Hands-on science experiments and activities
  • Games, arts and crafts
  • Presentations on the ever-amazing Science on a Sphere®
  • Space artifacts
  • Interactive exhibits

On reflection, our daughter was right. It really was a summer packed with family fun and discovery. Our girls learned so much about so many topics. Truthfully, we all did. And we had a tremendous amount of fun doing it.

Our daughters were inspired, interested and exposed to things they hadn’t even been aware of earlier but now talk about daily. They continue to make connections between things that surprise me. If, for example, you were to ask them about how the Earth’s oceans relate to space, they could give you a very logical list. They can also tell you details of the mission objectives and status of each of the last three Mars rovers.

As for me, it was a summer of “re-discovery.” I again feel that sense of wonder about space and the fact that people have stood on the moon. It is so easy to either be cynical or simply forgetful about the incredible achievements humanity has made in space knowledge and exploration. These 10 weeks have stripped that away.

To quote Lilly Koppel, author of The Astronaut Wives Club (which I read this summer, courtesy of the Space Foundation Summer of Discovery), “I still find it amazing that there is more computing power in my iPhone than in the technology that took the astronauts to the Moon.”

So the summer is over and it’s back to school now, but we closed out this summer with an album filled with photos, bedrooms loaded down with “take-aways” and a bank full of memories.

In the words of our youngest: “I feel sorry for other children. Their daddies have to work in banks and office buildings; my daddy gets to work at the Space Foundation.” Indeed, and for that we are truly thankful for the opportunity to spend our summer discovering and exploring all things space.

Pictured below: The Probert family making bicycle blender smoothies at the Space Foundation’s Summer of Discovery. Learn more about visiting the Discovery Center here.



This article is part of Space Watch: September 2013 (Volume: 12, Issue: 9).