Sunday, August 24, 2014

Berkeley Goes to Space Camp, Part 3: a Moon Mission, Astronaut Fun, and Meeting a Special West Virginian!

How was your first week back to school, boys and girls? It's fun to go back and see your friends and meet your new teacher, but it does make you very tired. I hope you were so excited and busy with your new class that I didn't keep you waiting on that last blog post about Space Camp! I will now finish telling you all about my time in Huntsville, so you can get ready for week two of the new school year!

Not only did I get to go on a space shuttle simulation (remember, a simulation shows you what experiencing the real thing would be like), but I also got to blast into the future! I was a "bear in space" on a lunar (moon) mission, to help fix a lunar colony that had been abandoned. When I visit many historic places in West Virginia, I feel like I am going back in time. It's also exciting to imagine what things will be like in the future!
Here I am in the commander's chair, ready to take off!

Mrs. Sponaugle was a Mission Specialist who would
go on a Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA) once Orion (our lunar shuttle)
docked on the moon! The blue suit she has on is called a flight suit.
Astronauts only wear these when they return from space or are doing
special appearances. 

The controls inside Altair, the part of the shuttle the mission
specialists had to program to dock on the moon!

Orion and Altair

This is inside Rising Star, the lunar space station where the mission
specialists suited up for their moon walk!

Mrs. Sponaugle is ready to fix that
lunar colony! This space suit is similar
to what the real astronauts wear on their
missions! It is very heavy, and you wear a
vest with ice packs in it to stay cool!

Climbing up into the lunar colony!

Here' Mrs. Sponaugle and the Texas Teacher
of the Year repair a window. Those suits are
not easy to move around in when you still have gravity!

Using teamwork to prepare a computer on the moon...

They both look so serious! I think they forgot that it was just pretend...

After we completed our mission to the moon, I explored some of the exhibits in the building with the simulators. I found some very interesting things to share with you!
An actual tire from a space shuttle!

This is the capsule that carried Miss Baker and Abel
when they became the first U.S. animals in space! 

This is how Miss Baker was strapped into the capsule.

They were even on a cover of a magazine!
I love it when animals do great things for our human friends!

A Manned Maneuvering Unit is what the astronauts would be strapped in
and attached to when doing an EVA from a space shuttle. You could still
do important work outside the shuttle and not get "lost in space."

Where's Berkeley? Just sitting in a real
Manned Maneuvering Unit!

Now, I did not make the height and weight requirements to do the following activities (I'm just a little black bear, you know), but I learned a lot from watching the teachers participate. Mrs. Sponaugle and the other teachers experienced what it would be like to be in free fall in space in the Multi-Axis Trainer (MAT) and how it would feel to walk on the moon in the 1/6 gravity chair (you only have 1/6 of your gravity on Earth when you are on the moon).
I was a little disappointed that I was too small to participate, but
I chose to have a good attitude about all of the other things I did get to do!

Here is Mrs. Sponaugle going round and
round in the MAT chair. It did not make you dizzy,
but it was very fast and you had no idea which direction
you would go in next.

This is the 1/6 gravity chair. It's very
difficult to move around without most of
your Earthly gravity! It feels like you are
floating, but it's hard work to move yourself

With only one more day of Space Camp (it had been a busy week, but I was a little sad to say good bye to all my teacher friends), there was one more special event that I am so happy to share with you. Boys and girls, I had the honor of meeting a very important West Virginian. Homer Hickam is a NASA engineer from Coalwood, West Virginia (that's in McDowell County). He has written many books, the most well known being Rocket Boys, which was the basis for a movie you may watch someday, October Sky. His teacher in high school encouraged him and his friends to go after the things that interested them and learn all they could! Homer and his Rocket Boy friends did a science fair project on rockets, and it won first place - at the International Science Fair! 
Here I am with Mr. Homer Hickam,
Mrs. Sponaugle, and a copy of
Mr. Hickam's book, Rocket Boys. The
three of us are all very proud
West Virginians.
I think Mr. Hickam is just such a great example to the students I have met this year in West Virginia, and I was so happy to meet him that, well, this little bear was almost speechless. And then, I had an idea pop into my little furry head. I was a little scared to ask, but I gathered up all the courage I had to politely ask Mr. Hickam to tape a back to school message for the students in West Virginia...and he said sure! Well, I was so tongue tied at that point that Mrs. Sponaugle took over (she thanked me later for my quick thinking) and I just held the camera (with some help from the South Dakota Teacher of the Year). So boys and girls, here is an important message from Mr. Homer Hickam about math, science, and reaching your goals!

What a wonderful week! I could tell Mrs. Sponaugle was very grateful and humbled to have all the special experiences. We both are so determined this school year to share what we have learned at to keep encouraging West Virginia students to reach for the stars.
One more picture of that amazing Pathfinder...

...And of that beautiful replica of Saturn V!

Until next time...

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Berkeley Goes to Space Camp, Part 2: Rocket Park and Davidson Space Center

Now, where was I, boys and girls? My little bear goal for the day is to finish telling you all about Space Camp. I am getting ready to go back to school tomorrow, so I am typing as fast as my paws will allow. I got honey all over the keyboard while I was typing yesterday (bears can be messy, you know), but I cleaned it up and am ready to go!

There are so many exciting things to see at the Rocket Park at Space Camp! There are many models (or replicas) of rockets that actually went into space! It is amazing how BIG everything is! I know I'm on the short side, but I felt swallowed up by these giant creations that many people worked together to build. I also learned some interesting things about the first animal in space!
Here I am at the memorial for squirrel monkey Miss Baker.
She was the first U.S. Animal to survival a flight in space!

Reading all about Miss Baker! By traveling
into space, she helped scientist learn how to make
space travel safe for humans.

See?!?! I told you the rockets were BIG! They are
tall and narrow, so they can fly quickly through the sky.

This is a model of the rocket that carried Miss Baker.

This is a giant outside model of Saturn V, a rocket that
took astronauts to the moon! It is the tallest and most powerful
U.S. rocket ever created! The REAL Saturn V is in the Davidson Space Center!

This is a model of Skylab. Astronaut would live in space inside Skylab
to learn more about space and conduct experiments. Skylab came before the
International Space Station.

Where's Berkeley?

Hanging with a model of a lunar module that was built to land on the moon!

A great view of the Rocket Park!

Just as there is an Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C. (remember when I told you about going there?), there is a museum at Space Camp for that, too - The Davidson Space Center! You know that I love museums, so I took many pictures to share with you! Make sure you read the captions under all the pictures carefully! You can learn a lot from pictures, boys and girls, if you read the descriptions!

Let's go inside!

Wow! A real helmet and pair of space shoes worn by an astronaut!

Werher von Braun was a German rocket scientist that
came to the United States to develop the U.S. space program.
He is considered the "Father of Rocket Science." Here I am
with his TIME magazine cover and briefcase.

A rocket engine! You need to know a lot about math and science
to be able to create something so powerful.

After the astronauts went on their Apollo missions to the moon,
the had to be quarantined (means they could not have contact with
anyone except each other). This was in case they had brought back
something from the moon that could make others sick. This is the Airstream
trailer where they stayed until they were cleared.

Where the astronauts slept after returning to earth.

The table where they ate...and played Scrabble.

Another look inside. 

While I was at Space Camp, the 45 anniversary of astronauts landing on the moon
with Apollo 11 was celebrated! This is a lunar module that would have landed on the moon in
1969. Where's Berkeley?

This is a lunar capsule that would be attached
to a rocket. The astronauts would lay on their backs and
work the controls. There's plenty of room in here for a little
bear, but it would be a tight squeeze for a human.

Inside, there are lots of buttons and dials! You would have to really pay attention
to many things at once!

And now, boys and girls, this is the REAL Saturn V! It hangs from the ceiling of the space center and is so big that I could not just take one picture of it!

This is the part that would sit on the launch pad.

Saturn V (you say it "Saturn Five" because the "V" is a Roman numeral).

One of the many sections...

Another section (closer to the top)...

The top...where it says "United States" is where the crew would sit.

This is the "brain" of Saturn V! It is the computer inside the rocket!

Often when you go to camp, you make new friends. Well, I am not the only bear in the world that likes to travel! The Australian principal of the year has a little bear friend from her school that goes wherever she and her teachers travel. It was so fun to get to meet someone from another country and learn about life on another continent! Hughy and I had such a great week learning about space science together! I have him a little West Virginia pin to remember me by, and he gave me a tiny koala bear. We may not see each other for a long time, but Hughy will always be my friend.

My Australian friend from Hughes Primary School!

Oh, boys and girls, I still have so much to share with you. In my next post about space camp, I will tell you what it is like to time travel into the future to conduct a lunar mission, what it feels like to be in space, and a very special meeting with another West Virginian!

Until next time...