May 10, 2012

Space Day is out of this world at the Pima Air & Space Museum

David S. Ricker
Staff Writer

Space Day at the Pima Air & Space Museum was an out of this world experience for a number of students from the Tucson area.

The Pima Air & Space Museum is one of the largest aviation museums in the world, and the largest non-government funded aviation museum in the United States.

The museum maintains a collection of about 300 aircraft and spacecraft from around the globe, including many rare and one-of-a-kind, and more than 125,000 artifacts.

The Space Day program included presentations on Mars, how to build a simple rocket and make a paper airplane, as well as sampling ice cream made for consumption by astronauts.

A guest presenter was Al Anzaldua, president of the Tucson L5 Space Society. “Today, the theme is Mars,” he said, as the student filed into a meeting room. “We’re going to start with an overall concept of the planet Mars and how it compares to Earth and why it would make a good second home for humanity.”

Students also looked at the Sun through a telescope owned by Doug Nelson with Tucson Amateur Astronomy Association. “We’re showing what the Sun looks like today,” he said. “There are some spots visible in the scope, some little black blemishes.”

Most of the presentations by the astronomers are at night, but they are asked to set up sun observation opportunities every so often.

Karla Estrada, a student at Sierra Middle School in the Sunnyside Unified School District, was in her element as she toured the space gallery. “I have always been interested in science, it’s my major,” she said. “I like to do research all kinds of stuff that people have done in the past to make it better for the future.”

During the class where students learned how to make rockets and paper airplanes, Karla was in her element. “You have to use the three laws of motion and inertia because without them it won’t work,” she added.

Karla’s teacher, Ava Bemer, a science teacher at Sierra Middle School, said she is always looking for these types of situations. “The kids need more opportunities to see what advancements have come along in science as well as to look at career opportunities,” she said. “This is reinforcement for what they have learned in the classroom and they actually get to see it in action, which makes it stick in their brain. When you get to see everything that you have learned in class actually being used it stays with you for the rest of your life. They will never forget this experience.”

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