Exploring space

Traveling exhibit lands inside Marshall-Lyon County Library

Photo by Karin Elton In the above photo, Nora Frerich, along with her brother, Henry Frerich, tries out a globe which demonstrates one of the states of matter, plasma, as they check out the space exploration traveling exhibit at the Marshall-Lyon County Library.

MARSHALL — Nora Frerich and her brother, Henry Frerich, were leaving the Marshall library with their mother, Kate Frerich and baby brother, Wynn Frerich, when Nora spotted a “ball.” She naturally put her hands on it — which you’re supposed to do. She didn’t know it, but the 4-year-old was learning about plasma and electricity.

The ball activity was part of an exhibit at the Marshall-Lyon County Library, “Exploring Space: Smart Spacecraft, Big Data, and Digital Models,” which is a national traveling exhibition exploring the evolving role of computing in space science and astronomy.

The exhibit will be accompanied by a series of programs and events, including a grand opening celebration from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday. For a full schedule of events, visit marshalllyonlibrary.org or contact 507-537-7003 or library@marshalllyonlibrary.org

“We are proud that Marshall-Lyon County was selected to be one of four sites nationwide to host the Exploring Space exhibit,” said Paula Nemes, public services manager. The exhibit started out at a library in Colorado, and then was shipped to Marshall. After Marshall, the exhibit will go to Iowa and finally, Tennessee. The exhibit will be on display at the Marshall-Lyon County Library until Thanksgiving.

In May, Nemes and fellow librarian Emilirose Rasmusson attended a two-day intensive training in Colorado.

“Part of the training was we had to learn how to set it up and tear it down to be shipped to the next location,” Rasmusson said.

“And they showed us a lot of the activities that we will be doing with patrons throughout the three months that we will have it,” said Nemes.

The stations are spread throughout the library in part because there isn’t room for them to be exhibited together and also so people can go in areas they may not have used before, Nemes said.

Nemes said science teachers can bring classes and homeschoolers can come in as well. The exhibit is for all ages and people can learn at their level.

“We think people of all ages and backgrounds will find that the exhibition provides a fun and engaging way to help us better understand the role that computers play in space exploration that is understandable, inspirational, and relevant,” Nemes said. “Computers have transformed how scientists and engineers study how our Universe works. The next generation of NASA astronauts and scientists may be walking through our doors.”

Over the past several years, expanding the number of youth exposed to computing concepts and their role in STEM has become an area of significant interest across the country. Developing computational thinking skills is an important stepping stone to learn there is programming in their everyday lives, according to a news release. This exhibition focuses on these skills. Exploring Space strives to make it fun with hands-on, multimedia activities where visitors can build their own artificial solar system on a 42-inch touch table, use giant stackable blocks to demonstrate the efficiency of parallel processing, understand how scientists discover exoplanets, learn about data mining using computers, play with robots that can be easily programmed, and more.

The library gets to keep the robots. There is Botley, the coding robot activity set, where the user can code instructions to get it to go.