ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Nearly 2,000 kids filled Sandia National Laboratories’ Albuquerque site, and another 200 filled the Livermore, California site, to see the cool things their parents and relatives do as part of Kids Day, the highest attendance ever recorded. It’s the first time Sandia has opened its gates like this since the pandemic hit, allowing a day of learning and exploration for kids invited by Sandia employees.
During the April 27 visit, middle and high schoolers got to take part in 99 different activities, among them, watching an explosives test, using a quarter pound of a common chemical explosive, at the Explosives Test Site.
“We test a variety of items by measuring the aspects of the explosion and how targets react,” explained Kevin Gamble, manager, to the crowd, before a siren blared, warning of the impending boom. “These tests help support Sandia’s core mission.”
Students also got to see a fire set at the Thermal Test Complex inside the flame test cell, which is surrounded by water-cooled walls. “I think it was really cool; I’m trying to get into physics and it’s always fun to come over and see this,” said Elizabeth Titus, a tenth grader at Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School and the daughter of Paul Titus, who manages the Vibration and Acoustics Test Laboratory at Sandia.
Some families made the long trip out to the solar tower, where they saw the sun’s heat bake cookies in just minutes. Others went beyond the rainbow, taking part in optical experiments. “Our job is to see the invisible,” explained Chris Saltonstall, an electrical engineer who typically works in remote sensing. Students were then able to measure their hair strands using a laser and light wavelengths. They also saw what bugs see when they view flowers under ultraviolet light.
Some more hands-on experiments included making ice cream using liquid nitrogen, seeing how virtual reality and robotics work, extracting DNA from a strawberry and examining its microbes under a microscope, learning how luminol reaction works, making slime and soap and learning how to catch and identify polluting particles in the air.
Attendance at the Albuquerque site, 1,950, exceeded the 2018 attendance of 1,800, the last time Kids Day was held in New Mexico. This was the first Kids Day in 10 years at Sandia California.
While Kids Day is a way to spark the imaginations of young minds, it also brings kids an increased appreciation for what their parents and relatives do each day when they head off to work, and for the science, technology, engineering, and math that is happening everyday behind that big fence.
Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia Labs has major research and development responsibilities in nuclear deterrence, global security, defense, energy technologies and economic competitiveness, with main facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California.
Sandia news media contact: Kim Vallez Quintana, email@example.com, 505-537-3294