Saturday, July 31, 2010

Space Camp!!!!

Cutting out tissue paper to make a hot air balloon!

My group, "Harmony" before our mission in space!

I have just returned from Space Camp where the the teachers of every state and many nations gathered to learn science and bond together across national and international lines! And so we did!

When you arrive in Huntsville, Alabama, space is written on the landscape. Posters, ads, space t-shirts.

Why? After WWII, 118 German scientists surrendered to one American Soldier. They came to Huntsville with vision and the dream of space. First, they were put to the task of making missiles, but then, space exploration began. Kennedy wanted to put a man on the moon and every heart in Huntsville beat a little faster to get the nation on that track.

Space Camp is a place where children and adults come to learn about dreams. How can I fly? What is the proper balance of my machine and my body? What does it mean to work in a team and what is my role? What can and should I expect of myself?

You are up early and go to bed late. You do missions that feel real and in between, you make hot air balloons, rockets and do Martian math. You see why your design for thermal protection was the best or the worse. You learn to appreciate different kinds of minds.

One day, Christa McCauliff's mother comes to visit and each teacher cries for Christa, that teacher who won the "Teachers in Space" competition, trained at NASA to become an astronaut and perished upon take off, along with her crew. Turns out that Christa wrote letters of recommendation the day before she went up in the Challenger when NASA had her in quarantine. Figures. Teachers do things like that.

Christa wanted to bring ordinary people to space with her. She was a history teacher and she figured she could make it easier for people to understand what kinds of things she was seeing.

You go girl! Your message lives on in each one of us.

You also learn that astronauts are funny people who horse around in space. You learn about the challenges of a space toilet and the kinds of food people eat that gives them the necessary high calorie meals each day.

Space camp. A place where everyone is a scientist, if only for a week.

When I returned home to Newark Airport, the faces and words of my Teacher of the Year friends and International teachers were still with me. A family for a week.

A plane roared overhead. I admired its slick tubular body and the fins that kept it gliding through the open sky. I wondered about its balance, weight, materials and fuel.

Once you touch space, you are never the same again!

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