Imparting a classical education at home. Check out the Edwards Academy.

Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Space Race: Cosmosphere Field Trip

It might surprise you that one of the best space museums in our grand land is right here in Kansas! It is true. The Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas, has actual artifacts that were flown in space, actual artifacts that were back-ups to what was flown in space, and high quality replicas. In fact, Mr. Edwards and I felt that the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center had a better museum than even Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Of course, Cape Canaveral offers a tour of the launch pads and other places on the space center, including a full mock up of Mission Control, but the Kansas Cosmosphere museum did a better job educating the visitor on the chronological events of the Space Race and displayed plenty of actual artifacts and models.

Mrs. Edwards, Edwards kids and a couple of cousins stand for the camera in front of the actual Apollo 13 Odyssey Command Module that landed safely in the Pacific after a harrowing trip, one made famous by the Apollo 13 movie.

Mr. Edwards and kids read the the display and gaze at the full-size Lunar Module on display. Behind them you see actual Apollo space suits.

The kids could have spent twenty minutes on the Mission Control board. We urged them on since others were waiting! They were hammering on the keys and calling out, "This is Houston, ..." 

The museum leads you through time, beginning with World War II Germany and the development of the V-1 and V-2 rockets. The Cold War gallery includes actual back-up artifacts of Sputnik 1 and 2 and other authentic Soviet space artifacts from the late 1950s. With hands-on opportunities for kids (pretend you are in the blockhouse and look through the spy-glass at the launch, sit in a B-52 ejector seat, push the buttons on an actual Apollo-era Mission Control control board, walk in the "white room" that Apollo astronauts walked through as they entered the spacecraft, sit in a Mercury mock-up capsule, etc.), the Cosmosphere does an nice job of combining text, displays, and sounds (Kennedy speeches, Apollo radio traffic, launch sounds).

The kids are standing at the base of the Titan II replica rocket. This rocket was used to launch the Gemini manned space capsules that were launched in the mid-1960s. As we stood outside looking, we heard actual audio recordings of the Gemini astronauts communicating with Mission Control.

In the giant entry way of the Cosmosphere, an actual SR-71 Blackbird is on static display. This amazing spy plane expands one to two feet during flight! It had cruising speeds over Mach 3, about 2,200 miles per hour. 

After a week of studying the space race at home, reading books about the Apollo program, and even watching the Apollo 11 moon landing, Edwards Academy kids were primed and ready to appreciate nearly three hours of museum walking. We had a fantastic time.


Lepidoptera said...

We were surprised to learn this! My daughter and I recently finished Highlights Which Way USA book on Kansas, and there is a puzzle dedicated to the cosmosphere. Our family took a trip to the Cincinnati Observatory last month with two other homeschooling families. Did you know that it houses the oldest telescope in our country? We did not know that before moving up here either.

Mrs. Edwards said...

I looked at your Cincinnati Observatory post; it sure has a charming building!

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Jennifer said...

Wow! I had absolutely no idea that was in Kansas. My in-laws are in the Lawrence area and we're always driving through the state from wherever we're currently living. :) We'll have to stop by there sometime. It looks like a great field trip!

Mrs. Edwards said...

I'd say that Hutch is about two and a half hours from Lawrence, You could easily day-trip it from Grandma and Grandpa's house, next time you're around.

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