COTTSBLUFF — Local youth lifted off during the Lied Scottsbluff Public Library’s universe of activities Thursday as part of this year’s theme “A Universe of Stories.”

As the youth blasted into summer reading, they recited a countdown cheer prior to the activity.

There were 186 people in attendance for the launching of water-filled 2-liter bottles, which was the activity related to space adventures Thursdays at the library.

Jon Amundsen, a NASA Nebraska space ambassador invited youth to launch water-filled bottles using bicycle pumps. After one person pumped air into the bottle, another pulled a string, releasing the bottle from the stand and sending it into the air while spraying water on everyone below.

Abbie Heckeroth was selected to pump air into the bottle.

“Pumping was difficult,” she said. “It was fun.”

Joey Mier echoed Heckeroth’s comments about the experience.

“The water launchers were fun,” he said. “It was fun doing the pump.”

As Heckeroth and Mier pumped air into the bottles, some of the youth laid on the grass to get sprayed when it launched into the air.

“It was awesome,” William Green said. “My mind was screaming. It was like instantly jumping into a pool and getting right back out.”

Deb Carlson, the children’s librarian, hopes the activity sparks youth’s interests.

“I hope that what happened today is a passion to learn more and be curious,” Carlson said. “The other thing I hope they learned is to understand the physics of what was happening.”

Teen librarian Mackenzie Watson wants youth to know the library is a fun place to come.

“We have activities here that are exciting that they can participate in,” Watson said.

Learning does not stop once the event concludes and Amundsen encouraged the youth to build on their knowledge of space by reading books.

Throughout the summer reading program, Carlson said it’s about encouraging youth to be creative.

“We hope we sparked creativity and interest,” Carlson. “We hope it opens the door to more learning.”

Along with the excitement of the launch, Amundsen said NASA is celebrating two monumental anniversaries this year.

“This is the 50th anniversary of Apollo’s landing on the moon,” Amundsen said. “That’s where this summer is going to be huge for NASA. Sixty years for NASA and 50 years for the moon landing.”

Upcoming summer readying activities include a Midwest Theater movie party, a magic show with Adam White and Dino O’Dell’s out-of-this-world show.

Tuesday, June 18 youth who have ready at least five books and received credit at the library can attend the Midwest Theater’s showing of Lego Movie 2: The Second Part. The doors open at 9:30 a.m. and the movie begins at 10 a.m. Adults can attend for $1.

Adam White will perform a magic show at the YMCA Trails West Pavilion Thursday, June 20 at 10 a.m. His show, Magic is Reading incorporates a variety of comedic, magic, family fun and audience engagement.

Dino O’Dell will also visit the library Tuesday, June 25 for an outer space music and storytelling show. The show begins at 10 a.m.

Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at