Astronomy on the Mall

Share This:

Sunday, June 23, 2019


Nour Ibrahim

One the first day of this internship, Brad told me that he and I are going to be the ones to organize Astronomy on the Mall and let me just say that I was beyond excited! Over the last 3 weeks, I’ve been slowly thinking about what demos to bring to the mall, but this week is when the intense started.

Astronomy on the mall has been happening for many years so we already had a list of demo ideas that have been tried and tested at the event, so we started there. The demos ranged over a wide variety of physics concepts, like light, sound waves, gravity, and so on. Coming from an astronomy background and the event being Astronomy on the Mall, I decided to add in one of my favorite demos that allows me to teach people about the life cycle of stars using balloons. The whole week was spent making sure that we had all the necessary materials for the demos, giving the interns all the necessary information and updates on the event, and of course, some SOCK related tasks were sprinkled in.

On Saturday, we headed down to the national mall, physics demos in hand, and I could not contain my excitement. The day that I have been looking forward to since day 1 was finally here. We set up our tables and laid out the demos in all their glory. Soon enough people started gathering around the demos and before I knew it, everyone was in Teacher-Mode ™ and were happily spreading the science. I must have stood on my demo station for hours, blowing balloons and popping them for anyone who approached the table and was interested in learning about stars. I am fully aware that some of the kids were mostly interested in playing with (and popping) the balloons, but I’m totally fine with that because that was the first step to having them approach the table and listen to some science while they played with the balloons. I took a little break from the demo and as I looked around and saw my fellow interns at the tables, I was filled with awe at the sight. It was sunset at the national mall, and all of us were out there doing outreach even though a lot of the interns do not have outreach focused positions. As a metaphorical cherry on top of my metaphorical wonderful sundae, two of my friends from ERAU came out to support me and catch up for a little bit!

I cannot express how grateful I am for this experience and for all of my intern friends for bringing this event to life. And of course, I am thankful to Brad for giving the opportunity to lead the organization of the event and incorporating my input even though my ideas can be a little out there sometimes.

To make a perfect day even greater, a group of us went to The Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History to check out the dinosaur exhibit after wrapping up on the Mall. The summer solstice party meant that the museums would be open until midnight, which made for a great night adventure for us. DC at midnight is simply gorgeous and it is definitely an experience that I recommend to anyone who is visiting the area.

Nour Ibrahim