DOWNEY – Hundreds of kids and their families swarmed to the Columbia Memorial Science Center on Saturday to take part in the space museum’s sixth ever Rocket Fever event.
The event took place all day at the museum during their normal business hours, and was free to the public. Rocket Fever was also sponsored by Financial Partners Credit Union.
During the festivities, children and adults alike were given the chance to build and launch several different types of rockets.
The event proved to be just another hit in what has already been a busy summer for Downey’s STEM center.
“It’s been a ridiculously busy summer. Not only did we increase our summer camp by a week… we had so many field trip bookings here – from after-school programs or the YMCA or something like that – it just kept us hopping the whole time,” said Ben Dickow, President and Executive Director of the CMSC. “…it’s been a really busy summer, but super great. This is sort of the capstone of all that.”
According to Dickow, he attributes much of the space center’s recent success to improved exposure of the once often overlooked museum.
“I think we are doing a better job of talking to the community and telling them ‘hey, we’re here and here to serve you;’ people are starting to notice that,” said Dickow. “Plus I think that we do really good work. It’s not me, it’s the staff. They just put on really great quality programs that people want to come back for. A day like today, we’re at a point now where I can talk to some people on the floor here, and some of them are new and some of them are returning…”
Dickow described Rocket Fever as “The only urban rocket festival in the country as far as we know.”
“…Usually you have to go out to the desert or something to launch these kinds of rockets, but we have a permit for smaller engines to be able to do it in this sort of urban environment,” said Dickow. “The cool thing about that is you don’t have to go make a whole day of it. You can come to the space center, get a rocket, shoot it off and not be more than five miles from home.”
Joining in the festivities were several of Downey’s notable resident’s, including Downey Mayor Alex Saab and City Council hopeful Rick Rodriguez.
Also present was Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, who commented on the significance of the CMSC.
“The Space Center here in the City of Downey is one of those jewels that not only is something positive for the community of Downey, but it is something that has tremendous value for the entire region,” said Roybal-Allard. “We need young people to go into the STEMs. I think that coming here to the Downey Space Center inspires young people to go into STEM…this is just really exciting and I want to really commend Ben [Dickow] the Executive Director for his vision and for really raising the level of community participation here in Downey, and I just think it’s gonna be important that we get the word out far beyond Downey, and that young people and families all over the region know about this place…”
CMSC is now preparing for their next big events, including an expanded floor space and panels at the upcoming Space Expo at Long Beach Comic Con in September, Spooky Science coming closer to Halloween, which will include an escape room experience, and several new programs coming soon.