A group of CMHS MESA (Math, Engineering, Science, Achievement) members discovered this when they received a hands on view into the world of rocket science on a field trip to the Columbia Memorial Space Center on Wednesday, February 15th.
Dedicated to the victims of the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster in 2003, the Center is a hands-on museum, located in Downey, designed to provide insight into the world of space travel and to simulate the various jobs and sciences that go into the world of astronauts. Containing both interesting exhibits and information pertinent to the world of astronauts, it works to educate children about the field and get them interested in careers in it.
Joined by MESA advisors, Mr. Poveda and Ms. Ras, students were able to participate in the interesting simulations and labs available at the Center, and learned about what really goes in to the days of the highly idealized astronaut, beyond anything they have ever heard of in a science fiction book or Apollo 13. This could prove to be especially helpful to students interested in going into that field after high school.
Starting their day off with a virtual trip to Mars, students were placed on two simulated crews: one on Earth giving instructions on how to build equipment and stay alive, and one heading to Mars to collect data and receive the instructions. Simulating jobs such as medics, probe makers, navigators, and data collectors, students were able to see what a real life space mission would be like. Students depended on each other to survive and have a successful mission, much like how real astronauts do on space missions. Halfway through, the students traded jobs and were able to experience both sides of the mission.
In addition to the Mars simulation, students also participated in a robotics lab, programming small robots to pick up pieces of magnetic rocks. They were also able to explore the museum and play with various rocket science related attractions. Using items such as parachutes, paper airplanes, and robotic arms, they explored the various sciences of aerodynamics, gravitation, and mechanics, all of which are the normal day to day requirements of a space engineer.
“It was really fun, even though it rained,” freshman Leo Doan replied.
In addition to the hands on activities, students also watched videos about space travel, on such subjects as broad as space travel itself, to as specifically interesting as the mechanics of space suits.
Overall, the field trip provided an excellent insight into the booming field of astronauts and their careers, and received positive feedback from many of the students who attended.
“The trip was amazing and well worth my time. I did not spend a minute bored or tired,” Amy responded.