2017 Apr 5: First Annual NASA Trip

This week Rockdale Junior High has the spotlight, and Principal Kelly Blair has an extraordinary trip to share with you. NASA has been providing our youth with wonder and excitement for many years, and last weekend a group from RJH had the opportunity to experience it firsthand.

           On Saturday, April 1st, 2017, Rockdale Junior High boarded 3 school buses of 200 students, families, and staff members at 7 o’clock in the morning, to go where no other RJH student has ever gone before. The journey began two years ago, when Kristy Kaufmann’s 6th grade class was introduced to a Space Exploration unit in Science. The students in her 2015-­2016 class were eager to learn more about NASA’s Apollo 11 mission, which put a man on the moon, and NASA’s upcoming plans to visit Mars in the near future. To quench their curiosity, the science department began researching the possibility of a school trip to visit Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Despite many budget factors that would work against them, they remained hopeful that Rockdale Junior High would conquer its NASA mission.

          After countless hours of planning and preparation, the science department was able to send 150 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students to the Johnson Space Center. When they arrived at NASA, there were so many things to see and do. Many students were entertained by the variety of hands on interactive stations at the entrance. They were allowed to explore the Johnson Space Center, as long as they stayed with their buddy. Many chose to see Human Destiny, which was a video timeline of space exploration, and then rode a rocket launch simulator. Many students explored the Boeing 747 aircraft that carried the space shuttle; a majority of our students had never even seen the inside of an airplane. Students enjoyed the chance to experience the differences in gravity on planets and watch a robot dispense swirled frozen yogurt. They also were able to participate in a demonstration of Newton’s Laws of Motion, explore historical artifacts of space travel, and even touch a real moon rock.

          The students represented Rockdale Junior High and the Rockdale community with honor and pride. Students were able to see their teachers in a different role, make new friends, and add a new dimension to their real world experiences. This year’s trip would not have been possible without the Title I Scholarship from NASA along with parental support. For many of our students, this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, they may not have ever had if it were not for the staff volunteers and parent chaperones. The excitement, curiosity, smiles, and memories made all of the time, planning, and money worth it. Upon taking the first steps on the moon, Neil Armstrong said, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” The RJH Science team is hopeful that this is only the first of many leaps, not just for their department, but for Rockdale Junior High!