Day 3: Log
What an exciting day! Lots of simulations, starting with our mission. Our goal was to relieve the duties of the astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Four members of Team Harmony were aboard the orbiter (Atlantis), four were in the ISS and the remaining six were mission control.
There were many things going on in my mind; don’t blow up the ship by pressing the wrong button, don’t leave your crew behind in space, don’t crash while you’re landing. All of this aside, my main thought was that it takes a team to do this. Mission control was our lifeline in the orbiter. When they didn’t respond to our call outs, we felt isolated. We had multiple anomalies thrown at us and needed to communicate that information to mission control, they would then figure out a solution and tell us how to stop the problem. We worked well under the pressure and completed the mission successfully! (Perfect landing too!) The simulation made us stronger as a team. What a unique experience! If I do have an opportunity to bring students in the future, I know that this will be a highlight for them and solidify their team.
Soon after our simulator, we went to rocketry 101. Building rockets as a class project uses all three learning styles, visual, auditory and tactile. It is a great activity to focus on teamwork, basic engineering skills and to promote an interest in space exploration. You can find applications to rocketry in history, science, technology, math and art.
I currently build rockets as an activity at the end of the year. I do not provide my students with a whole lot of guidance and expect them to read the directions and work with a partner stressing communication and responsibility. After attending this class at the space academy, I plan to re-vamp my whole set-up. It is important for kids to feel ownership of their rocket. If you can afford it, one rocket per student would be ideal. If not, two students to a rocket is good; that is how I organize the project in my class. Provide your students with 1-2 hours to work on it (this includes gluing and spray painting). Set up a hot glue station and provide supplies like Elmer’s Glue on their desk. I liked how the space academy instructors used shish-kabob skewers to provide a vertical post to slide your rocket down so it stands up in the grass and you can spray paint it. They also used the instructions from the bags as a protector for the grass.
On launch day, the space academy is fortunate to team up with the Estes Company and create a multi-rocket launch system (including a large wooden wall with windows to shield the students). Most teachers do not have access to this kind of set-up and would most likely do what I do, which is to have all students where googles and stand back. The electric circuit launcher that I have with my smaller Estes rockets has the system designed so the student stands a safe distance back. See video for a visual of the launch at the space academy!
In the late afternoon, before dinner, we had a presentation on commercial and international space flight. What was very interesting about this discussion was the fact that there are a number of rockets being launched all of the time! Check out this link for the 2015 launch schedule: http://www.nasa.gov/launchschedule/
The following pdf will help give you an insight on what happened LAST WEEK aboard the ISS. Notice the landing dates. If you read my log from day 1, you will notice that we had the opportunity to watch the live footage of the Soyuz TMA-15M landing back on Earth. Samantha Cristoforetti was the astronaut on board that broke the record for the most number of days in space for a female. np-2015-03-011-jsc-expedition-43-summary Exciting things are currently happening in the realm of space exploration. Here is a quick list of what I picked up on in the presentation but you can guarantee that I will touch on a lot more in my classes the following school year.
-The Rosetta comet landing happened in late 2014 through efforts from the European Space Agency (ESA). After a decade of orbiting the galaxy the probe, Philae, finally made contact with the comet and now has plans to stay with it for a year tracking data on the make-up and geological history. Click here for more details.
–Asteroid Redirect Mission: This is exactly as it sounds. NASA would like to capture and drag and asteroid into the moon’s orbit to use it for research, planetary defense against other asteroids and as a location as a half-way point for deep space exploration.
-3D printing has come to the ISS. This really caught my attention because of the work I am doing in my own classroom. Astronauts are now printing tools and other supplies that they may need aboard the ISS reducing critical payload weight for the launches. Click here for more details.
-MARS or BUST. If you haven’t heard, we are going to Mars! Humans not yet, but it will happen in our lifetime. Click here for an awesome NASA website that explains our current rovers on Mars. This link explains how NASA and ESA have signed agreements to continue the exploration to eventually get humans to Mars.
-The New Horizons program is going to be BIG very soon. This rocket was launched 8.5 years ago and is scheduled to fly by Pluto very soon. In fact, it will pass the dwarf planet on July 14, 2015 at 7:49:56 am EST. The fact that they know this is mind-boggling. Click here for more details on this incredible mission. This spacecraft will take pictures of Pluto’s atmospheric and surface composition. This link will show you what the spacecraft looks like. What I thought was interesting was that students designed a piece of the spacecraft that analyzes the space dust it encounters. A very cool “plug-in” is that one of our very own alumnae of Cranbrook, Dr. Kathy Olkin, is involved in this project. I plan on reaching out to her in the fall to Skype with us. She did visit our school 2 years ago but now she will have even more amazing findings to show.
-The James Webb Telescope will be the premier observatory of the next decade, serving thousands of astronomers worldwide. It will study every phase in the history of our Universe, ranging from the first luminous glows after the Big Bang, to the formation of solar systems capable of supporting life on planets like Earth, to the evolution of our own Solar System. (http://jwst.nasa.gov/about.html)
A couple of other things I jotted down in my notes from this discussion:
16 countries are associated with the ISS.
400 people have been to space.
Space Launch System (SLS) is the next vehicle to Mars.
NASA has selected two companies (Boeing and Space X) to focus on low orbit work (like the ISS). NASA’s focus is now into deep space and Mars.
To end the night, (and this blog post) Team Harmony participated in two astronaut training simulators; the multi-access trainer and the 1/6 gravity moon simulator. Note: the multi-access trainer does not make you get nauseous because your stomach stays in place and you do not rotate more than twice in a certain direction.
Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for Day 4 Log. More simulators and cool activities for the classroom!