Sunday, February 15, 2009

Space mission completed

I found out a couple of months ago about the Hudson Valley Challenger Center that does simulated space missions to educate the public about our space program and astronomy in general. Jove and his friend, who is also very interested in space, went on the mission Rendezvous with a Comet today.

It was an amazing experience. Jove and I worked together as scientists at the isolation station aboard the spacecraft. Jove got to use a robotic arm to move samples of a panel that had been hit by meteoroids and we counted the amount of impact holes. We sent our data to mission control where it was analyzed. There were also a few emergencies on board and we got to participate in some group activities. We also spent a portion of our time in Mission Control receiving and analyzing the type of data we had just sent. Jove was so excited the whole time and was really able to understand the job that we were doing. Jove and his friend wore their astronaut helmets and we all got flight jackets.

I was so impressed with the amount of accurate science that the kids were learning and the type of work we got to do on the craft. We may go back for one of their other missions in the future. Signing off!

Friday, February 6, 2009

while Miranda sleeps...

Two or three afternoons a week, after Miranda has fallen asleep, Jove I work on some sort of project. Jove is usually tired after morning activities: a class, a play date or outdoor time; and with a belly full of lunch he has the focus to sit and work on something. Sometimes he has an idea of what he would like to do and sometimes I suggest something.

Jove is very interested in outer space and space travel. We have been learning about the Earth-Moon-Sun system (day and night, moon phases, etc), the solar system and, of course, how astronauts experience life in orbit.

Jove has made small models of the planets out of homemade dough and painted them. I have him write the name of each planet which he is so much more excited about than practicing letters for no reason. We have finished the inner, rocky planets and have quite a bit more work to do. Jove is fascinated by the de-classification of Pluto as a planet and he loves that some of the planets are visible in the night sky.

We had a homeschooling lesson here on the solar system. The kids all designed their section of the rocket above and I was their "guide" on their journey through the solar system. We don't have astronaut costumes so they had to wear fire hats and a cowboy hat, but they were very excited.

The excitement of playing outside in the snow seems to have diminished for Jove, but he still seems to need to be getting messy or building something to be happy. So this past week, we made comet ice cream cones where he got to mix stuff into ice cream with his hands. And he wanted to make our own marble run out of stuff around the house after playing with one at a friend's house. I took Nanimal's idea on this one; give them a roll of masking tape and some containers out of the recycling bin.

I know that our days will be very different as it warms up in a couple of months, but for now I am excited about all of our indoor adventures. If Miranda only knew...