(written by Min Wong, member of ROMForYou, Friends of Earth and Space, Friends of Paleontology)
Have you ever held a piece of Mars? Martian meteorites are exceedingly rare but kids got to see one first hand on “Space Day” at the Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) over the March Break. It was presented by volunteers from ROMForYou and featured ROM’s own “rock star” Veronica DiCecco, and her assistant Kelly Ferguson, from the Earth and Space Gallery. They hit it out of the stratosphere with their cool collection of meteorites. We learned fun facts like how to tell meteorites from “meteorwrongs” and how meteorite experts are meteoricists and not meteorologists. Veronica was the special guest of the show “Kids Science” hosted by A. LeBoo, the superstar clown at SickKids. A. LeBoo led a fun Q+A that involved the live audience as well as the children who watched from their hospital rooms. The show was streamed live on the in-house TV channel that allowed children who were unable attend in person, the opportunity to watch and call in their questions.
A. LeBoo also played hilarious games with the audience that kept the crowd roaring with laughter. The favourite game was “Throw- a- Meteor- to- Get- LeBoo- Wet”. The clown wore a dunk tank hat with targets on either side of the hat. If the child hit the target with the meteor (foamball), the tank dumped water on the clown. Kids were practically jumping out of their wheelchairs in their eagerness for a turn. Needless to say, A. Leboo was sopping wet by the end of the game.
Games were followed by “space crafts” which transported the participants to another world of fun. Kids had a blast building the glow- in- the- dark rockets which taught them about electricity. They loved the messy fun of squishing red lava and blue ice slime to make 3-D volcanoes and geysers. Many of the children came well informed through their own reading and asked us questions like, “Did you know that the biggest volcano is on Mars?” and “ Did you know that Neptune’s moon has ice geysers?“
The children also had the opportunity to design cool galactic hats. One young girl knew all the planets by heart and placed them in order of their orbits around her head. The little ones wove dazzling bracelets and decorated them with stars and other celestial bling.
Everyone left with their spirits lifted, whether it was the children who were thrilled with their colourful creations, the parents who got a momentary respite or the volunteers who were gratified to see the smiles on excited young faces. It was a stellar day.
Many thanks to Veronica and Kelly for their wonderful presentation and to the staff at SickKids for their help and support. I am grateful to my ROMForYou team for their dedication: rocket man, Daniel Downey; slime experts Pam Hamft and Krisztina Luttor; super milliner, Katie Overstrom; star weaver, Jayshree Khimasia; and photographers extraordinaires, Krisztina L. and Jayshree K.