EASTON, Maine — For 25 years, the Francis Malcolm Science Center in Easton has taught countless children about the Earth, the stars and the universe around them.
This past week, the northernmost planetarium in the United States took time out to celebrate that.
The planetarium lauded its milestone with a wealth of kid-friendly activities that were fun, educational and fit in well with the overall goal of the institution.
“We’ve been doing a great deal of work up here for 25 years, and there are still a lot of people who don’t know that we exist,” said Larry Berz, the planetarium coordinator. “We have been doing these events this week to reach out to the community and also to reach out to the rest of the state.”
The Science Center is privately funded and generates most of its revenue from donations. Since its opening in 1983, it has become a popular field trip destination for area schools. Inside the center is a domed theater that seats 35 people, a magnet for area children who want to learn more about the solar system.
“To celebrate our 25th anniversary, we’ve really had some fun activities,” he said. “We’ve had pumpkin hunting in the woods, and we’ve been making apple cider. We’ve also taught the children about how the center came to exist.
“We are very proud of our educational programming,” Berz continued, which also includes nature education and programs on everything from snowshoeing to telescope making. “We’ve seen over 100,000 children come walking through these doors to learn something.”
The nature programming at the facility has included teaching children about insects, bones, animal species, and body parts such as the nervous and respiratory systems.
Berz said the moonlight snowshoe walks scheduled around the full moon are particularly popular.
To cap off the celebration Saturday evening, the center offered a planetarium program, “Close Encounters of the 1975 Kind.” The star show provided the history behind a UFO incident that was reported at the former Loring Air Force Base in 1975. The show was put together by students from the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone.
In late October 1975, a UFO sighting was reported when the object came flying into Loring’s official airspace. The base went on high alert, and no one was able to identify the object before it left the base’s radar screens sometime later.
“It’s a great show, and the students did an excellent job putting it together,” said Berz. “We are going to have a panel of local experts talk to those in attendance.”
The week of celebration has been a good one, Berz added, with exceptionally high attendance from children, especially those who attend the local school districts.
Kara Cyr, 10, a home-schooled student from Presque Isle, was one of those who planned to attend the Easton event.
“I love going to the Science Center, and I’m anxious to learn all about it,” she said Saturday.
For more information on the center, call 488-5451.