Students Plan Shuttle Flight Simulation
CLEVELAND (AP) _ The countdown is proceeding toward Thursday’s launch of two ″space shuttles″ that will carry 26 elementary schools students on a four-hour adventure.
The ″astrotots″ will ride aboard two school buses complete with such equipment as an on-board computer and generator, Military Affiliated Radio System and robotic arm for the release of helium balloon satellites.
The voyages are the result of a partnership between the schools and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration through the federal ″Parterships in Education″ program. Students at Belden Elementary School in Lorain County and Royal View Elementary school in North Royalton have been preparing for the 60-mile simulated ″flight″ for the past two months.
″My alternate hopes I get sick,″ said Larry Zajac, 11, a Royal View fifth-grader who will be the crew’s photographer aboard the school’s shuttle, Fantasy I. ″I’ve never had chicken pox, and she hopes I get ’em.″
″I really think, in today’s educational system, kids are not given an opportunity to dream enough,″ said R. Lynn Bondurant Jr., chief of the educational services office at NASA Lewis Research Center in Cleveland.
″In doing this, I think the kids are painting a memory they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. As far as I know, this is a first in the United States,″ he said.
School officials have tried to involve all the students at each school. Belden has 150 pupils in grades kindergarten through five, while Royal View has 550 pupils in grades three through five.
The two shuttles will travel to each others’ school, rendezvousing at Whipps Ledges in Hinckley. There, the astrotots will be taken to each others’ leaders; eat a space snack; collect rock, soil, vegetation and water samples; and perform experiments.
Belden’s kindergartners and first-graders will play satellite Frisbee and comet throw, while the older students are exploring. Others will act as security guards, reporters and mission control specialists.
NASA has been filming pre-flight preparation with the intention of making a documentary.
″This is absolutely the most fascinating thing I’ve ever experienced in my 30 years of education,″ said L. Jack Thomas, superintendent of North Royalton schools. ″It’s unbelievable that third-, fourth- and fifth-graders can so accurately replicate a space mission.″
″To me, this is what education ought to be like,″ said Bondurant. ″You can learn so much by doing things this way.″