Fly me to the moon, and let me play among the stars

Jul 19 2019 | 12:44 PM

    Monroe Free Library has partnered with NASA Solar System Ambassador John Fontana to present a series of five science and astronomy programs to support the 2019 Summer Reading theme: A Universe of Stories.
    The Solar System Ambassadors (SSA) program works with motivated volunteers across the nation to share the latest science and discoveries of NASA's missions through a variety of events that inspire their communities.
    As a NASA Solar System Ambassador, Fontana's mission is to bring the excitement of science, space exploration, and physics to all people, and especially to children.
    Using models, props, and pictures to provide visual explanations of complicated subjects, Fontana, a Monroe resident, shares his enthusiasm and wonder of the universe.
    A space enthusiast since childhood, Fontana watched the launch of Gemini, Apollo, and the Space Shuttle with great excitement.
    "Of course, seeing Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the Moon showed me what we are capable of when we dedicate ourselves toward expanding knowledge," Fontana said.
    Like many children, he wanted to become an astronaut and took steps along that path when he grew up.
    However, a single unsolvable problem held him back: he was too tall to be an astronaut.
    Fontana's first program at the library, "The Universe," was presented to a standing-room-only crowd of families on July 11 at the Monroe Free Library.
    His advice for fostering a love of science in children is as follows: "Encourage a love of reading, of exploring, and of working toward a goal. Have them participate in STEAM activities. Take them to museums. Discuss science, math, and technology with them."
    Three programs remain in this series (see sidebar for details).