Neutrino Day draws variety of ages and interests

Credit: 
Matt Kapust

More than 800 people attended Sanford Underground Research Facility’s 7th annual Neutrino Day festivities Saturday, July 12, in Lead. The event featured exhibits and activities, talks with scientists a mile underground, a science musical, and presentations by leading neutrino and dark matter experts.

            “I like it all,” said one child. That certainly was the sentiment among other children and adults as well. Between activities at Sanford Underground Research Facility, the Opera House, Library and the Lead/Deadwood Middle School, there was no shortage of excitement.

            Two new attractions this year were the “Space School Musical,” presented by the Dakota Players and the Journey Museum’s portable planetarium.

            "I just think it's exciting that I'm here," said Justice Scherer, who attended Neutrino Day with his cousin Emily Tieman and their grandmother. "I really love space, it's one of my favorite things to research,” said Tieman as she prepared to go into the planetarium. “I was going to make a book about it in second grade, but we never got the time to do it.”

              Many visitors started the day at the Sanford Lab, making their way through information tables, demonstrations and hoist room tours. They also talked with scientists and the emergency response team nearly a mile underground; participated in science experiments with South Dakota Public Broadcasting’s Steve “the Science Guy” Rokusek; and used a solar telescope.

Meanwhile, Davis-Bahcall Scholars and Sanford Lab interns operated nearly two dozen activities outside and inside the Opera House. At one table, children built marker bots, battery-operated robots made of yogurts cups and markers that doodled as they traveled the paper-covered table. One little girl said it was the best part of her day.

Other activities included using air pressure to manipulate the size of marshmallows and exploring basic circuits using conductive dough; a engineering design challenge that required participants to move a model of LUX, and creating bracelets from UV beads that change color in sunlight.

Science lectures at the Opera House attracted nearly 400 people. Many were young, aspiring scientists who took the opportunity to meet and talk to science experts. Zack Dugué, a 7th-grader from Rapid City, attended every lecture.

            "I'm caught between astrophysics and rocket science," said Dugue.

            Presentations started with Dr. Mary Kidd, a professor at Tennessee Technological University, who discussed the Majorana Demonstrator. Later, Kidd donned a bright orange Neutrino Day shirt to mingle with guests throughout the rest of the day.

            Dr. Miland Diwan had the crowd laughing at times with his lively and informative lecture about the strange behavior of neutrinos.  Dr. Joel Primack and Nancy Ellen Abrams closed Neutrino Day with a presentation about the role of human beings in the universe.

            “This was a great event,” said Primack. “Nancy and I would love to come back again.”

Click here to see pictures from Neutrino Day.