Sharing Space


Seeing the launch of Atlantis during the STS-132 mission last May has perhaps made me even more fanatically passionate about sharing my love of space with my students. So when Discovery was set to launch last November for the STS-133 mission, I shared with my students all about it. Of course, there were several delays along the way, which finally brought us to last Thursday.

I made sure to have NASA TV streaming as much as I could in my classroom throughout the day. In first period, we pretty much just had views of Discovery on the launch pad. In second period, not only did we get to see Discovery on the pad, but we also watched Johannes Kepler module dock with the International Space Station live. That was pretty cool.

When my seventh period came back for extended learning during our lunch “class”, I decided to ignore my planned activity and instead focus on the happenings with Discovery. We watched as the astronauts got settled in to the shuttle. As my students watched, they realized that the astronauts have to lie on their back for launch. They very quickly did the math and realized how long they have to wait until lift off all while lying on their backs. I think this really hit home with them.

While we were watching, I asked my students why this launch was historic. The responses were interesting: the last shuttle launch, the last launch to the moon, the last launch with people, etc. Finally someone had the correct response: the last launch of Discovery. It’s interesting though that some of my students still think we go to the moon. That makes me wonder how many average individuals have the same misconception.

As we were working in class later in the day, I did not have a chance to put NASA TV back on, but one of my students was watching online. She kept updating me with what was happening. That made me excited!

We dismiss from school at 4:00 pm, and the launch was scheduled for 4:50 pm. I was hoping my students would remember to go home and watch. On Friday, it made me so excited to hear my students come in and tell me they watched the launch! I hope my sharing space with them and all of the excitement that goes with it will help them pursue explorations of the unknown and also think seriously about STEM careers.

By Janelle

Space geek, science nerd extraordinaire. That's me! Want to know more, visit the About page.

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