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Kids Learn About Space Exploration in Converted School Bus

May 31, 1985

NORTH ROYALTON, Ohio (AP) _ A simulated space trip on the Fantasy I, a school bus painted to look like a space shuttle, was enough to stimulate the 18 elementary school children to explore new places - like the school library, their principal said.

Fresh from their successful mission inside the bus-turned-spaceship, the 18 ″astronauts″ got a heroes’ welcome Thursday as they were serenaded by the Royal View Elementary school choir and fifth-grade band.

The adventure on the Fantasy I was part of the Partnerships in Education program between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and two Cleveland-area elementary schools - Royal View and Belden Elementary, in nearby Lorain County.

The simulated shuttle adventure gave the young students an opportunity to imagine what a real mission might be like, said R. Lynn Bondurant Jr., chief of educational services at NASA’s Lewis Research Center in Cleveland.

Students at both schools went through tests and interviews to become astronauts. And training for the ones chosen for the project included new experiences close to home for some students.

″I’ve seen kids who wouldn’t normally go to a library in a million years do research and write things for this project,″ said Royal View Principal Jeff Lampert.

″We wanted to give the kids a moment they wouldn’t forget, and I think we accomplished that.″

Brian Bazinet, 11, a fifth-grader who was Fantasy I’s mission commander, said his job was to keep track of the other astronauts, including their heart rates.

He said other students at the school ″thought we were lucky to be chosen, and they were kind of jealous.″

Belden had its own ″shuttle,″ the USS Belden-Midview Starship, which carried eight pupils.

During Thursday’s voyages, each school’s ″spaceship″ made a 60-mile round trip that included a stop at the other school and a meeting at an area park. The trips took about 31/2 hours each.

There was plenty of adventure, said Larry Zajac, an 11-year-old Royal View fifth-grader and a mission ″explorer.″

″When we went to the other school, it was like an alien place,″ he said. ″Each class had a different planet name, and the kids all wore masks.″

Some of the students who remained at Royal View monitored the trip on radio and television equipment set up in the school’s ″mission control room.″

″I was nervous that something would go wrong and I wouldn’t know what to do, but it was OK,″ said Alecia Angey, 10, a fourth-grade astronaut on Fantasy I.

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