Have you ever been to a baseball stadium all day? 9 to 5? (or so?) Unless you have a full time job with a Major League team, it's probably never been the case. Today I was able to be at Coors Field all day with my students for their annual Weather and Science Day. Back in Wisconsin the older kids went to the Weather Day at Miller Park, but I never got to go. This time, when the principal suggested my kids come along this year, I jumped at the chance.
We got there early - before much of the other students arrived. We got there right before the park opened and went to their new parking structure, about a 10 minute walk from the stadium. My students that drove with me were moving at a snail's pace, and I'm not used to that when I go to a sporting event.
When we made it into the stadium, we didn't sit in our gameday seats, but they ushered everybody into the first level, first base side. They were estimating about 13,000 students in attendance, so not a seat was empty when the thing started at 10:30. Unfortunately, the sound system was pretty bad, and it was very hard to hear the announcers. Apparently this had not been the case in previous years; people who have done this multiple times said the sound system had never been this bad before.
The local NBC affiliate and Colorado State University were the partners for this event, but the group that put this all together was called Little Shop of Physics. They did about an hour-long physics lesson with three parts: Mass, Energy, and Waves. All of them were related to weather somehow.
This floating Earth picture is all about air having mass.
They gave each of us a small bag of science goodies so that we could participate too. Before the class started, some of the kids were trying to blow up these bags. But then we learned in the class that they only need one large breath to completely blow up.
Another experiment involved shooting tiny stuffed baseball players out of a chute, showing that it actually takes more energy to shoot a lightweight ball the same distance as a heavy baseball. And to my shock, I actually got one of the souvenirs! I decided to make him a classroom mascot, and one of my students decided to call him "Benny."
Another main point was that hot air rises and cool air falls. They had tissue paper lanterns placed over hot air and then released. The result was very Tangled.
Of course, there were some mishaps.
The final point dealt with waves, and how they travel. They got to use parachutes and plastic balls to show that when the parachute snaps down, the resulting wave causes the plastic balls to shoot up. Unfortunately, my one good shot of the plastic balls in the air accidentally got deleted. Oops.
Apparently, this lesson was a world record, with an official attendance of over 10,000.
After the physics lesson, the students dispersed - most of them coming up with us to the 300-level, invading all bathrooms, food lines, stairs, escalators, you name it. It took a bit to get to our seats, but they were up to my standards.
(Sidenote: Some day I'll splurge on seats right behind home plate or right next to the dugout. Someday. End sidenote.)
We had an hour to burn before the game started, so my students either ate their own lunches or bought very expensive nachos. I took some time to take pictures of the pretty scenery around the stadium. (This was before it got crazy cloudy and windy and rainy.)
First pitch against the San Francisco Giants came at 1:10 p.m. with a strike. The sun was out, the crowd was happy, and the Rockies pulled ahead quickly.
Unfortunately, none of those things lasted. The Giants hit six home runs, including a grand slam in the top of the 11th inning to break an 8-8 tie. By that time, most of the school kids had left, making it very quiet. The clouds came over the stadium and the wind picked up, sending much of the students' leftover garbage onto the field. (It kind of reminded me of 2006 when Comerica Park was full of seagulls for a couple of days.)
I ended the game in right field after Justin Morneau (who thought I'd ever root for him?) hit a 2-run home run to bring the game within 2. But a double play ended the threat, and I headed back to the parking structure.
It was a good thing this was an afternoon game; after the crowd left the clouds moved in and thunderstorms and rain rolled through. We don't get solid downpours very often around here, so this is very good for us.
I enjoyed the day very much, and it was a great alternative to my normal Wednesday of teaching. (Wednesday is my toughest school day of the week.) I hope to do it again soon!