The 2018/19 Young Astronaut Mission year class is off to a strong start! Starting this month, they will be meeting every Friday for an hour and half session to learn about science, the history and mechanics of flight, space travel and much more. Their first session involved using non-verbal communication to arrange dozens of pictures in chronological order. All 27 Astronauts had to work as one team – all without saying a word…
During the Astronauts’ next session, they were asked to build the tallest structures they could – out of spaghetti and marshmallows… They worked in small teams, and once again, they were not allowed to communicate verbally as they tried to figure out which structures would be the most stable and how to strengthen the joints.
The Astronauts had their first field trip as well this month, with a group outing to see the movie First Man. The film is about Neil Armstrong and how he became the first man on the moon; a great fit for our Astronauts, considering this year’s Mission theme is the 50th anniversary of the first manned moon landings, Apollo 11 and 12. Families were encouraged to attend, so we even had a contingent of YA alumni from the last two Mission years (all of whom also immediately saluted their Commander in Chief [C in C] – old habits die hard!).
For the next session, C in C taught the Astronauts about gravity and Newton’s law. They were divided into groups of 3 and each group had to build a self-propelled ‘rocket’ with a predictable flight path – from a balloon, string, 4 straws, and tape. It was harder than it looked…
To wrap up the first month, the Astronauts learned about the Wright Brothers and the various elements of stable flight. They then were asked to make several different models of paper airplanes, and at the end of the session they all lined up in the gym for a group contest to see which one would travel the farthest.
The first session of the month was a classroom session about the history of the U.S. space program. The lesson covered a lot of historical ground, from the earliest rockets ever invented (fireworks, by the Chinese), all the way through the Apollo era.
This session, the Astronauts learned about NASA’s mission patches and all of the symbolism behind every element on the patch. And then they got started on designing their own Mission patch! They brainstormed meaningful elements to include, colors, shapes – and then started drawing their designs.
In addition to their jobs training for and performing missions in space, Astronauts are also expected to give back to their communities. So this weekend our Young Astronauts participated in a voluntary community service event with Al’s Angels, where they helped package over 2,400 boxes of food for Thanksgiving for families with children in the hospital.
The Astronauts experienced one of the highlights of Mission year – a 3-day field trip to Washington, D.C! They went to the Udvar Hazy Museum and the National Air and Space Museum to view some of the artifacts they’ve been learning about this year and learn more about NASA’s space program. While we were there, we also took in some of the sights and visited the Memorials for Lincoln, Jefferson, FDR and MLK, the White House – and we even managed to visit the Spy Museum for a fun non-space-related morning. What a fun AND educational trip!
The Astronauts brought all their ideas together and finished creating this year’s Mission patch! Every design element has a meaning, so feel free to ask an Astronaut which symbol they liked best. One quick hint: a name and an element pay homage to the founder of the Young Astronauts program at CMS, who passed away this summer.