Day 2: Log
Today was a very jam-packed day filled with learning and fun! The morning consisted of low ropes course activities at “Area 51”. Our larger group of 14 was broken into 2 smaller ones completing multiple team-building initiatives. What a great way to really get to know your teammates! We laughed and strategized, completing 3 activities. Personalities really came through and trust began to develop. Everyone contributed in a unique way and pushed themselves to try something new. What a great activity to bring into my classroom, especially at the beginning of the year. These activities spur problem solving and creative thinking, team-building and leadership development. If you cannot bring your class out to a facility, you smaller activities in your own classroom.
Later in the morning, we all had the opportunity to experience the Aviation Challenge program which is a separate branch of Space Camp.
Our first scenario was of a helicopter going down in the water. We needed to get all of the crew out alive and safe. Certain protocols had to be followed.
This was fun and exciting and congealed our group even more. The best part of the morning was the parachute decent simulation into water. This activity consisted of the participate getting strapped into a harness and travelling backwards on a zip line into the water. See the video for more of a visual.
A nice museum tour ended the morning with Tom Hancock as our docent. As a software engineer for NASA, Tom worked on 5 shuttle missions including Columbia. Check out the cards he gave us. I have multiple to hand out to students throughout the year.
Tom told us insider stories of various missions all while we walked under the Saturn V (spoken as “Saturn Five”) rocket overhead. This rocket was made famous in the late 60’s and 70’s due to its use in the Apollo program for human exploration of the Moon, and was later used to launch Skylab, the first American space station. No human life or payload was lost out of the 13 launches from the Kennedy Space Center. Click here to learn more about this amazing piece of space history.
To date, the Saturn V remains the only launch vehicle able to transport human beings beyond low Earth orbit. A total of 24 astronauts were launched to the Moon from December 1968 through December 1972.
A lot of this information will be embedded into my curriculum naturally while talking about forces, speed/acceleration, flight and Newton’s Laws. My students construct rockets at the end of the school year as well. What a unique story about the Saturn V to link to that lesson. I also like the idea of incorporating the history class when discussing Von Braun and his work in assisting the United States in the space race against Russia.
After lunch, we are assigned roles for our first mission which will be to launch the orbiter Atlantis to the International Space Station (ISS) to help repair damage. This is called an Space Transport System (STS) mission because it involves a shuttle and support rockets (something NASA is beginning to conclude from the space program).
Six of us are assigned in mission control. Some jobs include: Flight Director (oversees all mission control), Capsule Communicator (CAPCOM) which is the orbiter life-line for communication, Payload Communicator (PAYCOM) who talks to the ISS and others for navigation, control, emergencies and environment. Four of us are assigned on the ISS performing experiments and completing space walks in the white suits and four of us are in the orbiter shuttle, flying it and in-charge of payload and space walks.
I am assigned-commander of the Atlantis. This is exciting and nerve-racking at the same time. I will be responsible for the crew’s safety with the orbiter, as well as landing. We do a mini run-through for the real-deal tomorrow. There are lots of details in the script that I am holding. Lots of switches and buttons in the orbiter with time constraints. I’m up for the challenge.
Stay tuned for Day 3 post where our mission is executed. Funny videos to accompany! Thanks for reading!