More than 2,000 children and families learned about physics and other science concepts Sunday afternoon during the annual hands-on Family Open House at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia.
The event included ask-a-scientist sessions, tours of the U.S. Department of Energy laboratory and booths with experiments on topics including magnets, air pressure, Newton's laws and friction.
The open house started in 2006 as a way to inspire kids and feed an interest in science, said Spencer Pasero, education program leader at Fermilab.
"We want them to see science experiments, talk to real scientists and realize that science is something they can do too," he said.
While the fair is aimed at students from third to eighth grades, high school students from Orland Park, Naperville and Chicago designed many of the experiments and attended the fair to teach them to the younger attendees.
"That gives them some immediate role models who are just a few years older to look up to," Pasero said.
For the children attending the open house, Sunday was a day of fun experiments with learning as a bonus.
"I love science," said Max Gonyea, 11 of Aurora. "Sometimes you get to blow things up."
Several children said their favorite booth was an experiment on air pressure where the air is sucked out of a bottle containing marshmallows, causing the sweet treats to expand in size. They immediately get smaller when the air was returned.
"They blow up, but they don't explode," said Kayley Queen, 8, of Naperville.
While the day was full of fun and plenty of "how did you do that" questions from the kids, organizers said it is about learning and keeping students interested in science as they get older.
"Inspiration is the biggest part of the day," Pasero said. "We hope kids get a desire to learn, try new things and do more science."