Friday, May 6, 2011

NASA-A fieldtrip of a lifetime

Today I was able to go on a field trip to the Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. I was rather nervous as we were taking 80 fifth graders. We were to leave at 6am and return around 8pm.

Funny, before we boarded the busses, you would think the parents were sending their kids off to their first semester of college. One of my boys later admitted to me, that he got a little “emotional” when he said good bye to his parents for the day.

We took two chartered busses; our drivers name was Money. The other bus drivers name was Sparky. (Seriously, I couldn’t make this up.) After a half an hour detour to get to the highway, we were finally on our way.

We had enough doughnuts and kolaches to feed 200+ kids. And we had over 300 water bottles. That might be a slight exaggeration, but no one should have gone hungry or thirsty the whole trip.

After almost five hours, we arrived at Johnson Space Center. The kids were excited. They had a small project that they needed to complete, but overall, the day was going to be easy for them. Their main goal was to behave. They were put in groups with kids from both schools (from the east and west sides of the highway.) This was interesting on many levels. The short version is: people typically think of kids from the east side as poor and minority and kids from the west as the exact opposite. (I teach the east side kids and I love them dearly.)

As we walked in the doors, we were able to see the various sights and sounds of NASA. We were able to hear astronaut Scott Parazynski talk about his various missions and the future of the space program. I loved it!

The other highlight of the day was the NASA tram tour. Yes, we did have to wait for about an hour, but we got to see the Vehicle Mockup Facility/ the current Mission Control Center. The tram tour concluded with a visit the "all new" Saturn V Complex at Rocket Park. As, our program is named “Saturn V,” we had to take a picture of all 80 kids in front of the rocket.

After a quick trip to the gift shop, we were on our way back home. I wish we would have had a little more time to walk around and see more of the exhibits, but the day was awesome!

My mom (a teacher) told one of her coworkers that we were taking this trip to NASA. Her coworker stated that this field trip was one that kids “in Michigan could never dream of going on. NASA, now, that would be a fieldtrip of a lifetime.”

I couldn’t agree more. We are truly lucky to live in a state that has such awesome places and I am so fortunate to be able to work in a district that makes STEM education a priority!

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