Somewhere between touring the Outreach to Space exhibit and gazing at NASA's moon photography, Jonah Hadley took some time Saturday to stick his hand inside a bubble.
"I like it," said Hadley, 7, "it's really cool."
Cool was the consensus at Ashland's ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum this weekend, where Hadley was just one thousands of visitors of all ages who took in the three-day NASA Exploration Experience, held Friday through Sunday.
The museum took on a space-aged theme throughout the weekend, with exhibits, informational booths and hand-on activities to celebrate the 40-year anniversary of man's first walk on the moon.
"It's pretty cool to get to see what the moon and space is like," said Breanna Jansen, 9. "I'm most excited to touch the moon rock."
The exhibit kicked off Friday with an after-school student day for middle schoolers. NASA's very own interactive trailer pulled in to the lawn adjacent to ScienceWorks, with students and teachers alike taking in the sights and sounds of outer space.
"I've never gone to the moon," said Ben, 5, as he raised himself up into the air on a two-person pulley device. "I want to go some day."
Saturday and Sunday were family days, with residents of all ages coming to take in the festivities. From 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., scores of residents filed through the ScienceWorks doors to check out the sights. Ashland Mayor John Stromberg even took time to stroll through the exhibit Saturday afternoon. While waiting in line to tour the Outreach to Space exhibit, he praised the event, calling it a vital part of community growth.
"This is incredible," Stromberg said. "The people here are so energized. You can see they are having a good time." Haley Wilson, 10, agreed with the mayor.
"I'm having fun," Wilson said, among the hundreds of museum visitors who lined the ScienceWorks lawn for their chance to tour the trailer throughout the afternoon.
Events shifted from educational to entertaining Saturday evening, with a live "Astronaut's Ball" featuring music and refreshments, not to mention stargazing with the Southern Oregon Skywatchers. Other weekend events included a "Robots on the Road" demonstration, using Lego building blocks to introduce kids to robotics.
The NASA Exploration Experience is a traveling exhibit offering visitors the chance to take a simulated trip to the moon. Inside the trailer, kids created virtual space stations, viewed the moon's surface and, of course, got to see the moon rock.
"It's gotten a great reaction from kids and the public," said Kirk Pierce, outreach coordinator for NASA. He said more than 1,400 kids and adults toured the NASA trailer on Friday and Saturday alone. "It speaks a lot about the city of Ashland, and about ScienceWorks."
Mark DiRienzo, executive director at ScienceWorks, said he could not have put it any better."We're estimating 2,000 people will have come through the doors before it's said and done," DiRienzo said. "A real great showing." NASA weekend wrapped up Sunday at 5 p.m.