Letter: STEAM whistle blowing at the old Crystal Palace

Families can now jump in and enjoy hands-on science on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons free of charge in Aspen. The Aspen Science Center has filled the old Crystal Palace with nearly a dozen different science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM) activities as it continues its outreach of connecting understandable science to the community.

Opening day Sunday saw a crowd anxious to spend their afternoon building geometric shapes, sailboats and race cars. A fan acted as the wind to move the boats down a 12-foot water table, complete with sandbars, rocks and currents. To the delight of future architects, marbles made their way around and down complex and creative contraptions while older students tried to guess what was under the microscopes. Electrical circuits were made and broken. Lego windmills were powered by solar. The youngest in the group found giant foam blocks and balls to play and build with. Each of the stations used educational and developmental concepts to reinforce self-discovery, but don’t tell the kids that. And there’s more to come.

Each week, a new art activity will be added to the mix. From making valentines on opening day to baking Shrinky Dinks this week, the Picasso in all of us can have free rein at the art station. In addition, a sand pendulum will be making geometric designs while children work their way through two rooms of fun science.

And dare we say the parents and grandparents had just as much fun? It seems some of the more fantastical Zome shapes and odd-looking boats were the handiwork of the adults in the room, showing us all that we’re never to old to play with STEAM.

The STEAM Room is open Wednesdays from 1:30 to 6 p.m. to accommodate both visitors and early-release students and on Sundays from noon to 4 p.m. The Aspen Science Center is a nonprofit organization, and donations are gladly accepted. There is a need for Wednesday volunteers who also want to join in on the fun — no previous experience required. Please contact for more information about the STEAM Room and all the 2016 spring and summer programming.

Denise Barkhurst