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MOS educator and Page Hilltop first grader Colin Parker weigh balloons filled with different temperature air in Ayer.

AYER — The Museum of Science’s (MOS) traveling Air and Flight Program pulled up to the Page Hilltop School in Ayer due to funding from the school’s Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO).

The first grade was given the chance to “explore the basic principles of flight” through this interactive program on Friday, May 19.

Upon arriving, MOS educator Jenn Romatelli encountered an enthusiastic group of six- and seven-year-olds.

Romatelli talked to the children about air and how it is not one huge chunk of air in a room, but individual molecules that make up the breathing substance around us. She used this fact to show them why balloons float or sink to the ground.

Why do hot air balloons fly? Romatelli explained to the pupils that when air heats up, the molecules “run around” and they need a lot of room to play. It takes less of those molecules to fill up the balloon, so it weighs less than the regular temperature air around it. Thus, it flies.

Why does an airplane fly? That was a question that most of the children had.

Romatelli showed them a miniature plane’s wing and pointed out that the bottom is flat and the top is curved. When the air flows over the curvature, it allows the plane to soar into the air.

Romatelli did an experiment with the children blowing air on top of a huge sphere, or a huge pyramid. The sphere was the one that “flew” because of the curved surfaces. This drew many “oooh’s” and “aaaah’s” from the crowd.

The most exciting segment of the program was the hovercraft demonstration.

John Cibor, an ecstatic volunteer, sat in a chair with a board attached underneath. Using a leaf-blower, Romatelli blew air underneath the board creating a “hovercraft.” Romatelli pushed Cibor, and he “flew” across the room until he was “caught” by his teacher, Mrs. France.

“We love having this program come,” first grade teacher Ellen McCann said. “The kids always enjoy watching it, and it ties nicely into the curriculum frameworks.”

The MOS’ pamphlet describing the program explains the framework connections. The presentation addresses the physical science and technology and engineering strands.

Romatelli described why this program is important for kids to see.

“The mission of the museum is to show people that science is important and fun,” she said. “We want to keep them interested in science so that they might want to pursue scientific professions.”

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