NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s young astronauts wandered around their command center early Thursday afternoon, some wearing space suits — one girl in shorts — monitoring radio blasts and occasionally complaining about the smelly bathroom.
The culmination of Columbus Magnet School’s annual Young Astronauts Mission is available for the first time in live streaming video over the Internet. Viewers can watch one of two feeds; one features the afore-mentioned Shuttle Command, while the other shows Mission Control. At 1:30 p.m. the screen showed a lunar module sat in the corner of a large, darkened room.
Moments later, the five fifth-graders crossed from one screen to another – flashlights flashed out of the lunar module as the astronauts announced they were starting their EVA. The now helmeted kids climbed out of the module, walked over “a rock field” and told jokes.
“Why did the mushroom go to the party? Because he was a fun guy,” a female astronaut said to an adult over a walkie talkie.
The idea is to combine serious learning with a sense of wonder and fun, according to mission’s website. The website is full of information – back in October, the kids began their learning by creating stable structure with spaghetti noodles and marshmallows, while not speaking to each other. In January, the kids learned about teamwork, using “extended arms” to pick up debris from the library floor with what appear to be dowels. In March, they went to the National Air & Space Museum in Washington DC, where a NASA employee showed them the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo capsules and the Discovery Space Shuttle.
The website offers a plethora of information: Flight Director Graham Miller was born in New York City and decided he wanted to be an astronaut while in preschool but has since learned there are other career options. He has won prizes in three science fairs. Pilot Lomorris House wants to follow in the footsteps of his dad, the website says. Mission Specialist Jessica Schweizer likes ballroom dancing, keeps younger children safe at school and helps people with their computers.
The EVA ended at 1:48 p.m. with the words “That was fun.” The kids went through a door and back into their shuttle command, as an adult announced over the radio, “The EVA was successful.”
The mission ends Friday morning.