Do we have an astronaut in the making? Who knows, but what fun to find out!
If you follow me on the ‘gram or over on Facebook, you know that our oldest spent the day at NASA’s Johnson Space Center last Wednesday. He was one of 30 4-Hers selected in the state of Texas to represent the organization and participate in 4-H’s National Youth Science Day activities. Kids all over the country were doing super cool things as part of the “Rockets to the Rescue” program and, in Texas, we did it big. Like NASA big.
Orion is scheduled for takeoff on December 4, so those 30 kids had a heck of a day learning about it, meeting an astronaut and space engineer, chatting it up with a food lab specialist, enjoying a behind-the-scenes tour and, of course, blasting off some rockets.
Here is Will’s day in photos, with a wee bit of commentary from a proud mom. Oh, oh! The local Houston (CW39) and Austin (KEYE-CBS) news stations came calling, too. I believe Will’s 15 minutes are all accounted for now.
His Austin news segment went live this morning. It’s a great four-minute interview!
Let’s get to it. Here’s the group, learning the ropes and hearing about their challenge at the International Space Station Conference Facility. Because we weren’t “badged,” Gianna and I (along with all the other parents and siblings) had to kiss our kids goodbye and wait eight looooong hours to hear about their most excellent day. (h/t to Toby Lepley, Associate Professor & Assistant State 4-H Leader for these fantastic photos) Their first stop? Rocket building. Each group was given a scenario where inhabitants of another country were in desperate need of food and the only way to safely get it to them was – you guessed it – via rocket. Those creations were launched at the end of the day. More on that in a bit. They grabbed a great lunch at the Space Center and then headed out for their exclusive tour. It was filled with a glimpse at the original Mission Control, as in “Houston, we have a problem” Mission Control, the Saturn rocket that never made it to space and the simulation area (SAIL) where astronauts train for space missions. I did manage to catch a quick glimpse of Will as they exited the space center. We just happened to cross paths and I was so happy to see his smiling, happy face. And, this photo just brings all kinds of joy to my heart. Apple. Tree. Not far from it. Then, they were off to chat with the mechanical engineer responsible for Orion’s parachutes. That sounds kinda important to me, no? Most of them were stoked to sign the Orion banner and become virtual crew members on the upcoming mission. Will was thrilled to head to the food lab next. Growing teenage stomach, I think. While with the food lab specialist, they were able to see the food allowed in space and ask tons of question. For Will, the best bit of knowledge? Astronauts aren’t allowed to drink carbonated beverages while orbiting because space only provides wet burps, not dry ones, due to gravity. Who knew? The best part of the day awaited. All 30 kids and adults met astronaut Bill McArthur, and finally launched those rockets. They even got a personalized demonstration of a “real-life” rocket (every boy’s dream!) from the NASA Houston Rocket Club. Mr. Astronaut even snuck in a news interview at the end of the day.
All in all, a really, really awesome experience. Thank you, NASA, Texas 4-H and Johnson Space Center for an unforgettable day. And special thanks to my college buddy, Kristi, for letting us crash at her house.
As Will says, “NASA and 4-H gave me a great opportunity to learn and I appreciate them both, so much.”
Next up, Mars?