CROWN POINT — St. Mary Catholic School fifth-graders recently took a trip out of this world.
After spending the last several weeks studying and learning about outer space, comets, asteroids, meteors and working as a team, they toured the Challenger Learning Center in Hammond.
The students were split into groups. One set of students participated in a Space Simulation Mission. The other worked in a Living in Space Lab and watched a planetarium show about how a future mission to the moon is a stepping stone to Mars.
The students in one group started their day at the space mission simulation. They worked in the spacecraft and Mission Control. The main objective was to find Comet Encki, and both groups found Comets Crisman and Wildcat.
“My favorite part of this field trip was the spaceship. We all had to work together to solve the problems," said Braelyn LaMere.
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The students also experienced the Living in Space lab. During this lab, the students predicted what would happen if a marshmallow and shaving cream were in a vacuum-sealed container.
The students also made space suits for their potato astronauts.
“I enjoyed the lab that we did there. We tried to save our potato astronaut by making it a space suit with aluminum foil and paper," said Lashawn Walker.
During the planetarium show, they learned that an advantage of using the moon as a steppingstone to Mars is its proximity to Earth.
A crewed mission can reach the moon in three days, but a mission straight from the Earth to Mars would take at least seven months.
Many students were interested to learn NASA has yet to send astronauts to the Moon since the historic Apollo missions ended in 1972. NASA is scheduled to send a four-person crew to circle the Moon in November of 2024, and NASA is not planning on landing on the Moon until sometime in 2025.
This will be humanity’s first return to the lunar surface in over five decades and the first time humans will explore the South Pole region of the Moon.
“I loved watching the movie in the planetarium. It was so realistic. I think it is neat we are getting closer to being able to land on Mars,” said Genevieve Abad.