3 Rs




Saturday, March 23, 2013

Seec Coninued, Part 3

Following the final workshop of the day, I had an opportunity to shop for t-shirts to take home for my three grandchildren. I am truly blessed. My three grandchildren live with my wife and me along with their parents. It’s a great arrangement.

I took the shuttle back to my hotel and rested a bit, took a shower, had a shave, beautified myself (ha,ha) put on my blue blazer and grey pants with suspenders and headed back to the Space Center for a banquet and dance. Jeff and I sat at a table with two educators and three young NASA engineers. These guys were great. I shared that I was once an electronics engineer, but left because the industry kept changing so rapidly that I couldn’t keep up.

I envied these three young engineers. They had their whole lives in front of them. I remember sitting in my electronics class at a college in Detroit, Michigan when a guy came in from a company from Palo Alto, California and hired the whole class except the three of us who were Canadians. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I didn’t know about green cards, pursuing the American dream, obtaining employment at a leading American Company. Yes, I was a bit jealous of these three young men, but my choices led me to where I was finally at NASA. I often dreamed about going to NASA as a teenager, but my parents didn’t have the knowledge to take me to where the action was. No matter. A few decades later and I finally made it. I was at NASA, a scientist’s nirvana.

Brian Ewenson had a Canadian table just to the right of the dance floor. It was decorated with Canadian memorabilia. He had red lobsters (candy ones I think), Smarties (you can only buy Smarties in Canada) and many Canadian flags. This was a table where you met real Canadians and adopted Canadians. The adopted ones were Americans or other nationalities that just wanted to hang out at the Canadian table. What a hoot.

The food was fantastic, the Max Q Band loud, the dancers in beat, and the camaraderie fantastic. Brian and the Canadian contingent went to another bar when the dance concluded and I went back to my hotel. I wanted to insure that I was well rested for my workshop tomorrow morning.

To be continued….

Sunday, March 10, 2013

SEEC continued…

On Friday, Feb 8th, I arose and made coffee in my room. Once I bathed and shaved, I headed down to the lobby for the complimentary breakfast. I cooked a couple of waffles, grabbed some scrambled eggs and sausage, two freshly baked and warm rolls with butter and strawberry jam. I momentarily reflected back to my high school years. Breakfast was a hot cup of tea and maybe a slice of toast since both my parents left for work before I took the bus for school. And now I was eating like a king. Life is good.

The Keynote Speaker was Dr. Satoshi Furukawa, a JAXA (Japanese Space Agency) astronaut. On June 7th, 2011, he launched on a Soyuz TMA-21 to the ISS where he spent 5 months as a crew member of Expedition 29. He explained his duties, experiments and experiences in fluent English.

I was off to my first session of the day, “Living and Working Together on the ISS” with Brian Ewenson. Brian just got started on his talk when a NASA employee handed him a cell phone. On the other end was Chris Hadfield calling from the ISS. How cool is that? He and Brian talked for about a minute and we all made sure to say “Goodbye Chris” to briefly mark our little place in this historic event. Brian is Canadian and now lives in Texas (see http://www.brianewenson.com/ for an explanation of what inspired him to seek a career in aerospace). He states: “I’ve known Chris for the past twenty years.” And he admitted that he got goose bumps just talking with Chris. It wasn’t until later that I learned that he had trained Chris for his first trip to the MIR.

Brian gave an inspirational talk and emphasized a recurring theme that I’ve heard many times before: Cooperation. He discussed the opportunities and challenges crews from 16 countries working together experienced. He especially highlighted Expedition 34/35 of which Chris Hadfield was involved. Brian pointed out the Chris will add another “first” to his list of firsts:

• First Canadian to enter the Russian Space Station Mir

• First Canadian to do a spacewalk

• First Canadian to control the Canadarm

• First Canadian to command the International Space Station.

After lunch, I took in the “Return to the Moon in Your Classroom.” There were many hands-on activities. There was a new twist on the moon cratering lesson that I’ve seen done in classes. Aluminum trays were lined with crumpled chunks of graham crackers (or chocolate chip cookies). A thin layer of sand was sprinkled over the top and we had to drop various objects into the tray from the same height to see which displaced the most material to form a crater. We used dice, tennis ball, rubber ball, odd shaped plastic pieces. We smoothed the surface over again and threw the objects into the tray at a 60 degree them 45 degree angle to see which displaced the most material in the base to create a crater. Different groups got different results depending how hard they threw the various objects. It was a great experiment that you could do with children from Kindergarten to Grade 6.

The final session of the day was “When You Wish Upon a Space Station.” Dee Mock of Baylor and Christine Graham McKinney of ISD kept all 25 of us moving as we went from one activity to the next designed for K – 2. I took this workshop because I’d like to design a workshop for Primary school children that gets them involved in space activities. More on this later.

To be continued…

SEEC continued

SEEC (con’t)

The Moon Buggy has a separate motor that operates each wheel and each wheel has its own hydraulics. I sat inside and it’s like sitting in the seat of a semi that hauls an eighteen-wheeler. It’s currently called the “Chariot”, but I don’t know if that will be its final name. The Vehicle Mock Up Tour facility is a large hanger full of rovers, habitat canisters, and models of the new Orion spacecraft.

I grabbed a sandwich in the 0-Gravity Restaurant and headed toward my next session, namely: “Aerospace Connections – Become an ACE Teacher (Using Civil Air Patrol’s Aerospace System).” You are probably wondering what I as a Canadian am doing attending this workshop. I’m always searching for ideas and lessons that have to do with flight. It was fascinating and I picked up a couple of ideas for a workshop I’m creating for STAO in November, 2013 entitled, “Flying Things.” It’s designed for Grade 6 educators.

There was an hour break to relax and at 5:30 we watched the film “Inspire Me Africa.” In this film, American teachers climb the highest peak on the African continent to find out who they really are (see http://www.inspireme-africa.com/) for more information. At 6:30 pm it was “A Taste of Space – Epicurean.” This event is a cultural meet and greet experience showcasing the area’s finest restaurants, food and beverages. I sampled three kinds of roast beef sandwiches and a couple of slices of pizza that were twice as long as pizza at home. They had to be doubled over the paper plate to stay on the plate. All the food that I consumed was delicious.

The shuttle picked us up at 9:30 pm and returned us to the hotel, where I enjoyed some green tea before calling it a night. I was in bed at 10:00 pm, exhausted after a very busy yet highly informative day.

To be continued….