Last week, NewsWorks posted a Tony Auth cartoon about the Philadelphia Science Festival (April 25 - May 3) to Facebook:

 

It got this response from Steven Holtzman, a producer of the Fox TV series "Cosmos":

As a producer of Cosmos, a former employee of the Franklin Institute and a lifelong Tony Auth fan, this post made my day. Everyone please take your children to this event. The excitement of discovering the wonders of the universe together is something to cherish.

We share Holtzman's enthusiasm for science, so we asked him to expand on his thoughts.

On a typical summer morning in the early 1980s I would have breakfast and read the newspaper before heading to the High Speed Line. I'd ride the train from New Jersey to 17th and Locust. From there it was a long but happy hike to 20th and the Parkway. I'd walk past the front of the Franklin Institute Science Museum with its six enormous columns, around to the back, and through the employee entrance.

I'd open the door and go in, past the tanks of liquid nitrogen, to the bottom of the grand marble staircase. The 85-foot-long Foucault pendulum, still for the moment, waiting for the initial pull and release that would turn potential energy into a fascinating proof that the Earth is indeed spinning. Up the stairs, around the Franklin Memorial, and into the office to put on my demonstrator's lab coat and read the day's schedule. First an hour at the information desk, then aviation, the observatory, paper making, physics, the N2 show, and the steam train. At each exhibit stood children eager to understand how things work.

At that time Dan Goldwater was in charge of the exhibits. He sat me down one afternoon after my liquid nitrogen show to give some advice. Remember, he said, that the science itself will fill the audience with wonder. So make sure they know it's not magic — this is real.

He was so right. When a child understands that extreme cold contracts the atoms in a solid brass ball and makes it smaller, or that the same force holding her feet to the ground also holds the earth in orbit around the sun, a door opens in her mind. Out through that door floods a lifetime of questions. Why do things have color? What is the age of the Earth? Where does electricity come from? How does a smart phone work? It's a never-ending adventure of discovery.

Over the past year and a half, while producing "Cosmos: A SpaceTime Odyssey," I've had the pleasure to speak with many of the top scientific minds of our age. The thing they all have in common is unquenchable curiosity. They want to know about everything. Their joy in discovering the answers is the same as that of Franklin Institute visitors — or of my own three children when they find out why the moon "grows and shrinks."

In this absurdly fast and technological world it's easy to take the science that surrounds us for granted. But understanding why the lights work in your house or how Bluetooth lets you listen to a podcast in the car is critical to making decisions for our future.

The Philadelphia Science Festival starts on April 25 and has over 100 events — 60 of them are family friendly. Find one to share with someone. Open up the door of discovery and see the wonder in a loved ones eyes. Oh, and don't be surprised if they see the same in yours.

Steven Holtzman live tweets episodes of "Cosmos" at @moobyfone