Fifty years after the moon landing, area kids are being introduced to astronomy, space travel, and history by a traveling program sponsored by NASA and the Guy Fenter Education Service Cooperative.


Mrs. Amber Cobb and Dr. Curtis Varnell, regional science specialists for the coop have developed a program that allows students to explore space through the use of a portable planetarium that can seat up to forty students as well as through a lesson written by Dr. Varnell that allows students to go through “astronaut” training and receive a badge and certification upon completion.


During the program, students watch video of space flight and then experience space travel by donning actual space suits and helmets, simulating take-off and flight conditions, and even eating and drinking space food. Of course, the drink has to come from sealed bags and drank through a straw so it is not lost out into space because of zero G.


Students learn the science and history of the space program and watch as several rockets are launched inside. Students then engineering their own rockets in groups and go outside to test them out. During the process, they collect data, measure distances, make graphs, and compete with other groups to see who can land their craft on hula hoop planets.


The culminating activity involves shooting off an air powered rocket that leaves kids amazed as it soars out of sight into the sky.


Over 3,500 area students have participated in the program during the past six months at their local schools, libraries, or boys and girls clubs. During the past two months, the Space Program have visited the boys clubs at Booneville, Paris, and Waldron, libraries at Booneville, Paris, Waldron, Charleston, and Greenwood, and the summer programs at Waldron and Greenwood. Fort Smith, Van Buren, Mansfield, Waldron, Hackett, Cedarville, Mulberry, Ozark, Paris, Charleston, and Booneville schools students have participated in the program.