Space campers ‘travel’ the universe
By Annette Tait
They not only met new life forms, they were those life forms. Participants in the Center-Stanton Space Camp experience spent four days in August settling space colonies, navigating uncharted territory, and otherwise exploring their universe, going virtually where no man has gone before. Their adventures showed them practical applications of math and science, and offered a fun way to approach to those subjects and more.
“It’s easy to work a lot of curriculum into that topic,” Center-Stanton teacher Donna Davidson said. “Like zombies, [space] is in the news and in pop culture quite a bit.”
Davidson and fellow Center-Stanton teachers Melissa Froseth and Lane Flagen built on the interactive activities of last year’s Zombie Camp for this year’s experience, weaving in lessons in math, English, history, biology, physics, computers, and technology while also encouraging critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
Physical activities and hands-on experiences were combined with classroom learning to keep the students engaged and stimulate their curiosity. One discussion, on the space race, began by sending students racing down a hallway only to realize they didn’t know where the finish line was set.
“They took off before realizing I hadn’t given them a stopping point,” Froseth said. “The point was, ‘how do you know where the end is?’”
The activity was used to set off discussion on the evolution of space exploration, and how training developed for new fields of study and knowledge that had never before existed.
“Before the space race, there wasn’t any such thing as an astronaut,” Froseth said. “We identified the type of training a person would need.”
In the early days of the space program, a potential astronaut might be in the U.S. Air Force, a pilot or an engineer. As space exploration developed, additional knowledge, skills, and abilities needed for the job were identified, and technology and training were developed. Students discussed the how the space program has evolved, and also considered what the future might bring, not just for the space program but for other careers and industries.
“The first night we practically had to kick them out because they wanted to stay and talk about space,” Froseth laughed. “How often do you have students who want to stay after the bell rings?”