Monday, June 25, 2012
Field Trip to NYCCSSE Challenger Center
Our homeschool Group visited the New York City Center for Space Science Education on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
The kids got to play with some toys like yoyos and astrojax and try to predict how they would perform in a microgravity environment. Then they watched astronauts on the International Space Station playing with the same toys. Next, they went into a lab and tried out some activities designed to show them how hard it is to work in a weightless environment when there is no clear up and down. They wore mirrored goggles and had to try to write their names and trace between the outlines in a pattern. I tried it too, and it was hard! They also tried putting together inch cubes in a defined pattern while wearing clunky gloves inserted through the wall of a water tank. This was much harder than it looked, and a lot of the more high achiever perfectionistic kids (ahem, mine included) got really frustrated when it didn't come easy. I explained to Mikro that this was the whole point. Stuff that's trivial to do with Earth gravity is much more difficult in microgravity.
Next, they watched a film of a shuttle launch, then went through a rotating "airlock" into a mockup of a space shuttle, which had various stations with tasks for them to perform, like drawing in space gloves, an eye hand coordination test, manipulating a robot arm, and getting a probe ready for launch by making sure it matched the wiring diagram.
Afterwards, they visited a mission control room, looked at samples of mission patches, and then drew their own. Mikro and his best friend, E, worked on patches for a joint mission with themselves as crew, going out of our solar system looking for extraterrestial life. They each drew a patch with their names on it as crew. Very cool!