‘Sun, Earth, Universe’ is a launch pad for space exploration at Swaner
What: “Sun, Earth, Universe”
When: Fridays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Nov. 29
Where: The Swaner EcoCenter, 1258 Center Drive at Kimball Junction
Cost: Free with EcoCenter admission donation
The Swaner EcoCenter has turned into a gateway to outer space thanks to “Sun, Earth, Universe.”
The bilingual, multi-panel and interactive exhibit will showcases the Earth and space science, and how humans explore and learn about space, said Hunter Klingensmith, Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter visitor experience and exhibit manager.
“It offers opportunities for people to try out tools such as infrared cameras, ultraviolet light, magnifying glasses and magnetic field detectors that are used to locate the unseen elements in space,” Klingensmith said. “There is also a place where you can compare satellite images of the Earth from 25 years ago with ones that have been taken now.”
The exhibit, which is on display through Nov. 29, also includes colored blocks that can be used to build topographical maps of Venus, and people will have the chance to build their own spaceships and test them out, according to Klingensmith.
“Since it’s an interactive exhibit, one of the concerns is COVID, of course, so we’ve taken the hands-on elements of the exhibit that can’t be easily sanitized and created portable kits,” she said. “So, when people want to design and build the spaceship, we actually have kits people can get at the front desk.”
Once people build and test their spaceships, they return the kits, and the EcoCenter staff will then clean and sanitize every part before the kits are checked out again, Klingensmith said.
“We will also continue to sanitize the exhibit every hour, and we have placed sanitizer stations that are available for everyone,” she said. “And we are grateful people don’t mind wearing their masks.”
To further protect patrons, the Swaner EcoCenter has limited its capacity to 20 people at a time.
“That way you don’t have to interact with a lot of people, and there is plenty of space for appropriate social distancing so everyone can stay as safe as possible,” Klingensmith said. “That’s been working out pretty well so far.”
“Sun, Earth, Universe” is the first exhibit to show at the Swaner since the novel coronavirus hit Park City in March, and it wasn’t originally on the environmental nonprofit’s schedule.
“We had a bigger exhibit planned that we were excited about for September,” Klingensmith said. “The problem was it being very large and very hands-on, and we felt it wasn’t the right time to bring in something like that.”
Getting “Sun, Earth, Universe” came about through the EcoCenter’s partnership with the Natural History Museum of Utah.
“The exhibit was created by the National Informal STEM Education Network, through a collaboration with NASA,” Klingensmith said. “They made a few versions of this exhibit, and started distributing them last year to various organizations that applied to host it.”
The Natural History Museum of Utah was selected as one of the venues for the exhibition’s initial run, earlier this year, and has passed it to the Swaner EcoCenter, according to Klingensmith.
“Because we partnered with NHMU, the opportunity came to bring the exhibit to Park City,” she said. “We all felt it was a really good and safer alternative to the bigger exhibit we were planning. We are, however, working on rebooking the bigger exhibit for a couple of years down the road, because we want to wait until we all feel a little more comfortable with the heavy, hands-on exhibits.”
People can experience the exhibit without having to pay extra for admission, Klingensmith said.
“Sometimes we charge a separate fee for other traveling exhibits, but this one we can offer with our regular suggested donations to enter the EcoCenter,” she said. “I really feel this is nice, especially during these times when people are watching how they spend money.”
Klingensmith is also excited about opening an exhibit at the Swaner EcoCenter after months of COVID-induced inactivity.
“We love being able to bring in something new for people to experience,” she said. “We like giving people the opportunity to learn something new, and we’re excited to have people back in the EcoCenter. I have missed everyone.”
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