WESTFIELD — Amelia Park Children’s Museum will host an outer space-themed event Monday, April 8, where children can watch the solar eclipse, develop their science and engineering skills, and learn about asteroids, planets and the moon.

“My goal is to spark additional interest in space among young children while also building tangible STEM skills and bringing slightly older children into the museum,” said Assistant Director Brianne Zulkiewicz.

In “STEM in Space” — the abbreviation stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics — children will do hands-on activities covering various outer space topics, such as asteroid mining, nebulas, star formation, the orbits of planets and other objects, crater formation, and observing the moon.

Amelia Park is also taking advantage of the solar eclipse that day, Zulkiewicz said. The event includes discussions about the eclipse and attendees can arrive early to view it, she said. The museum will have a limited number of eclipse glasses available, or people can bring their own.

“It will be visible,” said museum education host Grace Kelly. “It just isn’t in the path of totality. We will be able to see some of the eclipsed sun.”

According to the NASA website, the partial eclipse is estimated to begin in Westfield at 2:13 p.m., reaching its fullest extent at 3:27 p.m. At that time, people in Western Massachusetts should see 93.7% of the sun covered by the moon. Zulkiewicz said she hopes skies will be clear, but NASA is predicting rain.

For kids under age 4, there will be a play space available with books, small activities and art projects, as space allows.

STEM in Space uses an “Explore Science: Earth & Space” toolkit from the National Informal STEM Education Network, which distributed them as part of a project led by NASA and Arizona State University. The toolkit comes with activities for kids based on the latest astronomical research.

“It’s perhaps a little bit more scientific than the usual science projects kids are making,” Zulkiewicz said.
Zulkiewicz said NISE Net first came to the Westfield museum with the kit when the museum was closed for the coronavirus pandemic. She had been meaning to use it since she started working at the museum in 2022. With the solar eclipse, she thought this was the perfect time.

Kelly believed that the toolkit made this a special event.

“It’s been a longtime coming and a longtime since we had a collaboration to this scale,” she said.
STEM In Space will take place 4-6 p.m. on Monday, April 8, at 29 S. Broad St., Westfield. Attendees who want to view the solar eclipse should arrive at 3:15 p.m.

The event targets ages 4 to 10, but kids slightly older or slightly younger can still come and have a good time, Kelly said. The museum tries to make its events “adaptable,” she said, to include as many ages as possible.

Those interested must register online at ameliaparkmuseum.org. STEM in Space is free for museum members, $2 for EBT card holders, $4 for other adults and children under 4, and $8 for children aged 4-10.

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