Fifth grade goes to the Challenger Learning Center (and the moon)


Go flight! We are go for lunar landing.

RAMAPO, N.Y. — The Colonial fifth graders today did what many people have imagined doing their whole lives: They traveled to the moon.

On the field trip to the Challenger Learning Center, students were assigned different jobs for a simulated lunar landing. These jobs were on the isolation team, medical team, probe team, remote team, communications team, navigation team and data team. Each team had their own special assignment. The people in mission control monitored the spacecraft and sent messages to the crew. The people in the spacecraft recieved these messages and went to work conducting tests and doing other things. While you were working aboard the spacecraft, you got to wear a blue jacket with a NASA patch and a Challanger patch.

The Challenger center and others like it were created in memory of the astronauts killed in the explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger.

“The mission was wonderful,” said Mrs. Meryeme Gashi, a fifth grade teacher. She thought the students would benifit the most from “understanding the importance of communication and listening. Out of a tragedy, the Challenger Learning Centers were created. Something positive resulted.”

The fifth grade students experienced both being in mission control and being in the spacecraft itself on the moon mission. There were two people on the communications team, one in the spacecraft and one in mission control. They sent messages from the other teams so mission crew members could check and see if everything was going as planned.

“There are a lot of activities, and the movie was great,” said Sidney Skop (5V). “I liked the experiments too.”

Patrick Zahradnik (5V) said “going into mission control and sending directions to my friends was fun.”

Part of Space Shuttle Challenger’s original mission was for high school teacher Christa McAuliffe, one of the astronauts/civilians aboard, to teach children across America by being broadcast on live television while in space. When the Challenger exploded 73 seconds after takeoff due to the “O” rings failing, that goal was never achieved. The Challenger Learning Centers were made to teach children about the Challenger space in general.

Sandra Lesliz, one of the center’s instructors, said her favorite part of the job is “working with the kids and getting them excited about learning and getting them happy. I wanted kids to learn about working together.”

With a successful probe landing and a successful spaceship landing, the Colonial fifth graders colonized the moon, and that fit right in with the fifth grade science unit. The field trips are winding down, and so it the year. When that happens, the fifth grade student will head to sixth grade, another alien place. The fifth grade is still unsure about that. Until then, they still have Colonial.

Contributing to this story were Francesca Di Cristofano, Daniel Bernstein, Alexandra Broege, Sam Rodd, Kristin Roksvold, Henry Driesen, Manon Bushong, Daniella Cherner, Claudia Dodge, Peyton Rees and Lindsay McNamara.