Sheri Samson
The Mineral County High School gym played host to a science night for elementary school children last week.

The Mineral County High School gym transformed into a giant Hawthorne Elementary School science workshop, as students and parents browsed through teacher-table sites that created air gliders, showed centrifugal force, rocketed a balloon on a string, showed coded symbols and microwaved soap into a foaming lather with the expansion of molecules. Family focus groups and the Mineral County Library were also represented with an array of science materials and their inspiration of supporting science through a summer reading program.

But it was impossible to ignore the presence of a NASA employee standing near a large, igloo shape, which was gaining the most attention in the room.

Teacher Anne Welch, had lined this up all the way from Reno. The Challenger Learning Center of Northern Nevada set up a blown-up, dome tent, to provide the astronauts view of sight and sound created in a learning experience. With limited seating within the closed setting, tickets were handed out per timed showing.

Jenny, the NASA host, gave a short explanation before entering this compact room, which showed a space video within the dome ceiling. Projecting travel through space, the students saw a realistic vision of being transported to various planets to see space stations and experience the atmospheric regions within many space colonies.

The planet Mercury had many craters, while Venus was boasting of volcanos and heat danger. Gravity pulls varied planet-to-planet, as well as the astronauts methods of transporting and gathering testing samples. Each destination presented astronauts moving upon the planet’s surface, in a realistic cartoon character style, which delighted the kids. Space outposts would explain the excitement of a NASA employee as they used robotic technology or wheeled around the moon on a bouncing Apollo Rover.

This program was set forth in 1986, following the death of seven Challenger crew members while in space. The families came together knowing that no brick and mortar building would expand the broadening of space education to children as well as a moving educational model could. Over a developmental stage, this vision has evolved into several formats, including the dome presentation.

The promotion of scientific knowledge is to focus on the good and not the loss, which is why it has been named The Challenger Learning Experience. A Facebook page is available for anyone wishing to follow their goals and remain involved in their Northern Nevada events.