After five years in school, will homeschooling be a fit for our family? Walk with us as we try to find out!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Best Field Trip Ever!

Last week, we went on a field trip with our homeschool group to the local Challenger Center for Space Science Learning.  I really did not know what to expect, but the description of the trip sounded interesting so I signed us up.  Wow, were we in for a wonderful experience!  As we learned, the center is one of many throughout the United States that were created as living memorials to the crew of the Challenger.  The goal of these centers is to "carry on the educational legacy of the Challenger crew."  If you have a center near you, I cannot recommend a trip highly enough!

Here is a taste of what we experienced:

In the lobby of the center, we examined rockets, models of rockets, space rocks and other interesting items as we waited for our "trip" to begin.  When it was time, we were greeted by two knowledgeable and friendly guides who escorted us to the briefing room to get us ready for our "flight."

Our guide first gave a short history of the Challenger Mission and how these learning centers came into existence.  She then moved right into a brief description of our mission and what we should expect once we entered the "spacecraft."  The guide at the center entered the spacecraft with us and remained our main help throughout the mission.  The guide at the podium stayed behind and acted as Mission Control throughout our journey to the moon, communicating with us in real time via the spacecraft's PA system.

After we suited up in our flight jackets or lab coats (depending on our job on the spacecraft), we traveled through the airlock and then entered the spacecraft.  Once inside, each child chose a job and our guide rotated through the stations explaining each job in more detail.  Our mission was to land safely on the moon and test the surface for raw materials and to determine the location's viability for colonization.

TS 1 chose the job of the ship's doctor.  He was tasked with continually checking various vital signs of the crew members to ensure the well being of all aboard the spacecraft.  As part of his work, he entered the data into a computer and electronically transferred it to Mission Control, who responded via the PA system when clarification or further testing was warranted.

TS 2 was our ship's communication's officer.  We had no idea what to expect and chose this job at random, but it turned out to be so much fun!  His job was to communicate with Mission Control all voice messages from the various teams.  It was fast paced and exciting, as the communications were done via a headset that projected his voice over the PA system.  He felt very important indeed!

There were several "emergencies" on board while we were in flight, and through them the children learned a little about what kind of emergencies could occur aboard a spacecraft and how they might be handled.  We watched our countdowns, takeoffs and landings via video monitors inside the spacecraft.

I've been on my fair share of field trips as a mom, but this one was by far- the best field trip ever!  Run, don't walk to your local Challenger Center!  In addition to field trips, our local center hosts public missions every month and is available for private parties as well.

I'l leave you with this adorably cute video of TS 2 as Communications Officer:

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