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Rebecca Craig/The Daily Times Delanie Montoya, a Girl Scout volunteer paints a banner announcing the 400th birthday of Gallileo at E3 Children's Museum on Saturday.
FARMINGTON — Something that started 400 years ago continued Saturday at the E3 Children's Museum and Science Center in Farmington: learning about the solar system.

The museum played host to a variety of interactive and educational programs to celebrate the International year of Astronomy 2009 and the 400th anniversary of Galileo's use of the telescope.

Children of all ages stopped by the museum to participate.

"Space seems to be an exhibit the community loves," said Kelly Hile, an educational specialist at the museum.

Programs like the International Year of Astronomy 2009 help raise interest about astronomy and the solar system and increase awareness in smaller facilities such as the E3 Children's Museum and Science Center.

Program facilitators pull interactive games and other educational tools from the Astronomical Society's Web site,

The interactive activities enable staff to do more programming about space.

"What's great about the online community around all these projects is the discussion about how well they went," Hile said.

One activity, the Habitability Game, taught participants how close planets need to be to the sun to sustain life.

Participants used Play-Doh in another game to learn about the volume of the planets in the solar system.

"I thought Earth would be bigger than it is compared to Jupiter," said Mistery Miller, who is a volunteer at the museum.


Miller, 11, and Mary Coleman, 11, are members of Girl Scout Troop 1575. The two are completing their Astronomy Badge.

"It was really cool," Coleman said. "I knew they were really big but when you see it to scale, you realize how big they are and how small we are."

Another participant, Kaleb Twilley, 11, also was surprised to see the planets.

The activity elicited a discussion among the kids about Pluto and whether there are more planets.

Hile picked up one of the Play-Doh balls, which represented Jupiter, the Gas Giant and explained that scientists were able to see other planets similar to Jupiter orbiting around other suns.

"There are other suns?" Twilley said.

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If you go

The E3 Children's Museum and

Science Center, located at 302 N. Orchard Ave., in Farmington will be holding special programs throughout the week. For more information call (505) 599-1425.