1,500 Richmond Students Explore Outer Space

By Post Staff There may be no scientific proof of life beyond Earth, but that didn’t make the alien spaceship landing at DeJean Middle School any less exciting to student Celsa De La Cruz. “You can get inside it, and you feel like you’re actually in space!” said De La Cruz, a seventh grader at DeJean, who was among more than 1,500 Richmond students who had the opportunity to board a model UFO, touch a rocket missile and go for a ride in the multi-access space simulator as part of the Traveling Space Museum’s “Space Day.” Sponsored by the For Richmond coalition, a new community service organization in Richmond, “Space Day” brought a dozen interactive and shocking space-themed attractions to DeJean for the day on Friday, May 17. “What these kids learn today, they remember and Space Day is all about giving students the opportunity to soak up new ideas,” said Ivor Dawson, founder and president of the Traveling Space Museum, Inc., an award-winning organization that brings the wonders of space to students in elementary and middle schools across the U.S. For Richmond sponsored the event as part of its mission to improve the quality of education in Richmond by increasing access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs, expose students to new, science-oriented ideas and increase academic performance. This is the third space-themed event For Richmond has sponsored; earlier this year, the coalition organized two traveling space exhibits at Richmond elementary schools in partnership with the Chabot Space & Science Center. “This puts science in a whole different context, and makes it really exciting for these students,” said Madeline Kronenberg, For Richmond education chair and board president of the West Contra Costa Unified School District. “These kinds of opportunities make science education come alive – students will not soon forget the experience of being spun around in a space simulator.” DeJean History Teacher Doug Marques said teachers were also thrilled with the exhibit – and thankful to For Richmond for sponsoring it – because this kind of interactive programming helps elevate the classroom curriculum. Even English teachers were talking about developing writing assignments based on the day of space fun, Marques said. “This kind of program is great because it gets kids excited to learn and dream about their own futures and careers,” he said. For De La Cruz and the other students who had the chance to see a 17-foot-long full-motion flight simulator, learn how to flush a space toilet and touch a Lunar Roving vehicle, among other activities, Space Day was simply about experiencing something new and novel. “It’s cool because I get to see something I’ve never seen before,” she said. “I loved it!” For more information about the Traveling Space Museum, visit http://www.travelingspacemuseum.org/.
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