Nearly 2,000 guests filled Sandia’s Albuquerque site and 200 visited the Livermore site to see the cool things their parents and relatives do as part of Kids Day — the highest attendance ever recorded.
During the April 27 visit, middle and high schoolers got to see an explosives test, using a quarter pound of a common chemical explosive. “We test a variety of items by measuring the aspects of the explosion and how targets react,” manager Kevin Gamble said to a crowd before a siren blared that warned of the impending boom at the Explosives Test Site.
Students also saw a fire ignited 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, 10th grader at Cottonwood Classical Preparatory School and daughter of Paul Titus, who manages the vibration and acoustics test laboratory.
She was one of hundreds of children, relatives and friends of Sandians who walked through the Labs and learned what goes on each day, what their family members do when they head off to work and the types of careers they could have someday.
Some families made the long trip out to the solar tower, where they saw the sun’s heat bake cookies in minutes. Others went beyond the rainbow by participating in optical experiments. “Our job is to see the invisible,” said electrical engineer Chris Saltonstall, who works in remote sensing. Students had the opportunity to measure their hair strands using a laser and light wavelengths. They also saw what bugs see when they view flowers under ultraviolet light.
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, watching luminol glow, making slime and soap and learning how to catch and identify polluting particles in the air.
This year’s Kids Day was the first time since 2019 that staff in Albuquerque were able to take families behind the fence. It was the first Kids Day in 10 years at Sandia California. The day not only fostered more appreciation for what their relatives do at Sandia but also sparked imagination in young minds.