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Electrician shares his passion for astronomy as outdoor lab volunteer

Dave Olson volunteers at Outdoor Lab where he first discovered astronomy as a sixth-grade student decades ago.

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colorado — When Dave Olson goes to work each day, as a Master Electrician, he always needs to be mindful of the sparks.

"I started in 1983, so yeah, I did a lot of wiring," Olson said.

He's part of a team at JoaQuin Manufacturing putting together pre-fabricated utility buildings.

"As a kid, I was kind of a little electronics geek and I used to spend time in Radio Shack," Olson said.

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After working in a noisy, busy environment by day, Olson, perhaps, finds his balance when he volunteers at night.

"It's pretty easy to find a place up here where you can experience true quiet," he said.

Credit: KUSA
David Olson at JoaQuin Manufacturing.

Every week, Olson comes up to Outdoor Lab at Mount Evans within Jefferson County Schools. Outdoor Lab is a district-wide tradition for sixth-grade students to live in the mountains for a week to learn about nature and the outdoors.

"Right now, I would call myself volunteer telescope guy," Olson said.

Credit: KUSA

But, he actually is more than that. He comes to Outdoor Lab to teach kids astronomy. Olson said he does it because of the spark he found looking through the same telescope more than 40 years ago when he was a student at Outdoor Lab.

Credit: KUSA

"The moment that I remember is walking through that door before this glass was painted black and seeing the telescope all illuminated with the roof open and just going, oh, that's so cool," Olson said.

He became the star gazer teaching thousands of students since 1994.

"They've offered to pay me and I won't. I don't need to be paid to be here," he said.

These days, Olson wants kids to stop looking down at their phones and start looking up at the sky.

"I was having that exact conversation with a group of kids, you might see a... and a gigantic bolide meteor came straight out of the north and went through about 120 degrees of sky, just on cue. I'm like there, see," Olson said.

Credit: KUSA
Students gather at the outdoor lab.

He hopes to spark interest in a science that's waning among teens.

"I wouldn't call it dying, but I think there is less interest among young people than there used to be," Olson said.

He hopes to spark a life-long passion like his own.

"If there's a chance, that a kid can feel the way I did after this experience, it's worth it," Olson said.

Credit: Bryan Wendland
Dave Olson volunteers to teach students about astronomy at Jefferson County School District's Outdoor Lab at Mount Evans.

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