Saturday, June 5, 2021

Space Academy for Educators: Day 2 (Summer 2021)


If you haven't read Day 1, you can find it here!

 Friday, June 4, 2021 - Day 2

Today was a busy day! We set off for the Space and Rocket Center a little after 7 for breakfast. I was really craving a PB&J waffle sandwich, but the center is nut free due to allergies, so I settled for biscuits and gravy.



Our first activity of the day was called "Exploration Life" where we learned about life on the space station. The speaker showed us a space sleep suit (basically a sleeping bag with arm holes that is velcroed to the wall), some space food, and videos of astronauts in space. Fun fact: when astronauts brush their teeth, they have to swallow the toothpaste. Blegh! As convinced as I was yesterday that I should have been an astronaut, that about convinced me otherwise. Then I found out they have to exercise 2.5 hours a day just to MAINTAIN muscle, and that DEFINITELY convinced me otherwise! As cool as it would be to see everything from space, I think I'll stay here on Earth where I can spit my toothpaste out and NOT exercise!

This was followed by a NASA presentation by Marcia Lindstrom on the Space Launch System (SLS) for the upcoming Artemis missions to the moon and Mars that will take place in the next couple decades. I am so excited to see how much space travel evolves - it really is so incredible. Artemis 1 will be the first human spacecraft to the moon in the 21st century, followed by Artemis II which will contain the first humans to orbit the moon and travel into deep space, Artemis III-V will have deep space crew missions and more. The SLS for the first three Artemis missions are already being manufactured, and the first one is nearly ready to go! They gave us a NASA patch and lapel pin, as well as the Artemis mission lapel pin.

Marcia Lindstrom

Next, Homer Hickam spoke, and he was so funny! He was a NASA engineer who wrote the book Rocket Boy about his experiences growing up that got him into rocketry, and is who the movie October Sky is based off of. He read a couple pieces of his book to us, and explained a bit of what led him to work for NASA. He also autographed copies of his book, so I am excited to read that as well!



Our next activity was creating a rocket that we will launch later during camp. It took about two hours to put it all together. The kits were from Estes Rockets, and they offer beginner kits with step-by-step instructions, up to kits with supplies that you just do whatever you see fit with.




We then went back to the cafe for lunch, followed by a trip to the gift shop. All I've got to say about that it is a good thing we get discounts!!


We had a brief presentations about some resources for educators that I look forward to sharing with my fellow STEM teachers once I have access to the presentation. Then, we got to fly drones! We practiced flying them, flipping them, landing was pretty neat. 


Next up was training for our first mission that we will do tomorrow - Mission to Mars. My job is the PRE, which basically means I get to be Matt Damon and do some Botany. They have a hydroponics system set up much like they will once we establish 'residence' on Mars with actual vegetables growing. They are currently in the maintenance stage, so I have to trim the plants as needed, test the pH level of the soil, and then can do some experiments. Since today was just practice, I didn't do a whole lot. Tomorrow is our mission though, so I am excited for that!





We then got to choose whether we wanted to do origami, cyber awareness, or go look at the Davidson Center. Mel and I chose the Davidson Center, so our crew leader gave us a tour with some history that she was privy to. 



Our schedule was all goofy, and had us eating dinner at 5, then doing the previous activity at 6. We are all pretty much already sick of camp food, so Mel was awesome and talked the crew into letting us do our activities at 5 so we could leave at 6 and go get dinner somewhere else.

We (13 of us) headed down to Campus 805 where I played tour guide. For dinner we ate at one of my favorite places, a brewery called Straight to Ale. Usually I get the jerk chicken tacos (no surprise there), but I switched it up a bit and got the Southern BBQ Poutine and it was every bit as delicious as I expected it to be! Campus 805 is cool because it use to be a high school and is now converted into a giant adult hangout. It includes breweries, restaurants, axe throwing, a tattoo shop, games and more. I think the highlight with everyone was the speakeasy, which is hidden behind old lockers.




We made it back to the dorms by 10, and I am laying here writing this as I should be going to bed. We have another busy day tomorrow, and I am going to need some rest!!

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