Former NASA astronaut Nelson to teach kids about gravity Nov. 14

Former NASA astronaut George “Pinky” Nelson, director of Western’s Science, Math and Technology Education program, will take Bellingham students in kindergarten through fifth grade on a phenomenal trek through space Wednesday, Nov. 14.

Part of Western Youth Programs’ Science and Arts Early Release program, “Gravity: May the Force be With You” is an exciting opportunity for students to put on their science goggles to experiment and test gravity.

Students will find out what gravity is and what it does. They will explore how gravity is the force that keeps people on Earth and discover how it keeps the moon circling Earth and the planets orbiting the sun.

Designed for K-5 students in the Bellingham School District, Western’s Science & Arts Early Release program is an extraordinary opportunity to explore the fun of science and art in a university setting. Taught in part by students from Western’s Woodring College of Education, each session begins with 45 minutes of recreation activities before participants settle down to learn about one of many exciting topics.

On Oct. 24, students experimented with black lights, fluorescent lights and optics equipment to explore why light is both obvious and mysterious.

In the Nov. 14 session with “Pinky” Nelson, participants will:

  • Investigate gravitational pull - what makes rivers flow downhill?
  • Find the center of gravity – why do you land on both feet when you fall?
  • Experiment with force of attraction – what does matter have to do with gravity?
  • Build a working definition of gravity and record observations in a gravity workbook.

On Nov. 28, students will reach for the stars as they learn about astronomy and in Western’s planetarium.

Winter and spring themes will include zoology, earth science and visual arts. Early release classes cost $39 per session or $33 each when enrolling in five or more per quarter, when available.

A 20-minute parking permit for convenient drop-off and pick-up will be provided to participants at no additional cost. Students are asked to bring a rain jacket, a healthy snack and drink, and a curious mind.

For more information or to register online, visit, email or call (360) 650-3308.