Monday, September 29, 2008

Trip To The Moon

Today DS and his classmates took a trip to the moon. Really....they did a space mission and landed on the moon at around noon today. OK, OK, so it was just a simulation, but it was totally awesome and amazingly realistic for something designed as a field trip for students. I went along as a chaperon and was totally impressed by the facility as well as by the students' performance during the mission. They went to the Challenger Learning Center (one of 52 world-wide).....these centers have been set up as living memorials to the astronauts who died in the Challenger space shuttle disaster on January 28, 1986 (as an aside, today is the 20th anniversary of the first shuttle mission that occurred after the Challenger disaster....September 29, 1988....a neat day for the kids to have had their mission simulation at the Challenger Center). The students were divided into two team was stationed in "mission control" while the other team (DS' team) was stationed in the space module that was "launched" into "orbit," first around Earth and then around the moon. The kids had many realistic tasks they had to perform during this simulation. At first, all were nervous (DS was nervous, but his nerves were very much overtaken by his major excitement about the experience....I thought at one point he was going to bounce right out of his shoes from being unable to contain all of the excitement!), but quickly settled into their respective roles and became very engrossed in what they were doing. I think that at times they probably even forgot that it was only a simulation and they were actually still here on Earth. They even handled an "emergency" with admirable calm. DS was assigned to the Probe Team, which placed him alone in a "clean room" to wire up the electronics of a lunar probe with only the verbal instructions from a member of Mission Control to guide him (the room did have glass doors that allowed him to see what was going on in the rest of the space module). He completed his task successfully! At the half-way point the teams switched places to give everyone a chance to experience both the space module portion and the mission control portion. By the end of their mission they had successfully landed their space module on the moon! DS was quick to inform me that although the mission control part was very interesting, the space module portion was a lot more fun for him. I think this definitely rates up there as one of DS' favorite field trips. I know it is probably one of the most interesting I have ever been on, especially as a chaperon (and that is even taking into consideration that in the past 2 years I have chaperoned 2 overnight field trips with to the zoo, and one involving winter survival and hiking with 6 inches of snowfall on top of what was already on the ground, followed by cross-country skiing). So to DS and his classmates....Great mission! And welcome back to Earth!

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