YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections


2nd-Graders Explore Challenge of Space


THOUSAND OAKS — Space is not "Star Wars," but a real-life challenge that tests the ingenuity of people who dare to take it on, a group of Lang Ranch Elementary School second-graders learned recently.

Twenty students from the Thousand Oaks school carefully piloted their "orbiter," constructed of cardboard and plastic, to dock with a make-believe International Space Station.

Cheers went up among the student scientists Friday when their mock mission was successfully completed.

The exercise was part of a yearlong space program taught by Suzy Moore. Last summer, Moore went to Huntsville, Ala., to participate in a NASA space camp for educators.

She came back inspired, with lesson plans, posters, a script and plans to build a mock-up of a space orbiter. The project expanded, as parents chipped in to help build the spacecraft. Local businesses, including Rockwell International, Amgen, Boeing and Beta Automation Inc., provided funding and materials.

The end result fills a classroom at Lang Ranch. But more significantly, the exercise has given the 7- and 8-year-olds a taste of careers in aeronautics along with knowledge about physics, reading, art, mathematics and history.

Moore attempted to show students what is required to navigate space. For example, when the shuttle crew left the orbiter to perform a space walk and deploy a satellite, students were required to wear their space suits and helmets.

Parent volunteer Alya Fattah, whose son Joad is the orbiter commander, said the program has been a great learning experience.

"I've learned more about space travel helping with this and through my son than I knew before," she said.

Moore said some of her students have shown an interest in working in a space-related field. David Mair, 8, worked in Mission Control but said he wants to be an astronaut.

"I'd like to go to space," he said.

Los Angeles Times Articles