JWE Holds NASA Astronaut Space Event

James Williams Elementary School recently did a program with 36 specially chosen 5th grade students who trained, applied and blasted off to space in an elaborate NASA ceremony. The students wore spacesuits which included helmets and life support packs. They made a homemade shuttles and were scheduled to spend from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. experiencing various space simulations while attempting to survive in space on their mission.
The students and the staff spent 10-weeks after school learning about space and building their own shuttle for the event that took place on April 13th. As part of the program John Gruener from NASA came out to speak to the children and give some examples of space and distances of the Moon and Mars from the Earth and asked the children lots of questions. Several of the students came very close to the correct answers. Gruener is a Houston native who was born in 1961 which was the same year that human spaceflight began.
Space-themed movies and television shows were a staple in his life growing up in Spring Branch.
Gruener has been at NASA’s Johnson Space Center since 1986 and currently works in the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science (ARES) Division. Most of his work is in advanced mission planning for the future human and robotic exploration of the Moon and Mars, specifically focusing on science goals, objectives, and surface operations.
Past efforts involved working in Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division Soil Chemistry. He also worked in the Mineralogy laboratories developing a mineral-based substrate for plant growth in regenerative live support systems, and supporting Mars Exploration Rover missions of Spirit and Opportunity.
Gruener’s wide range of activities in the space program have included working as a rocket scientist, systems engineer, space farmer and planetary scientist.
Gurener’s background made him uniquely qualified to speak to JWE’s fifth grade explorers. He had a slide presentation which explained the things that happen in space. He used an example of the location the earth is to the Moon and to Mars. He used a Cantaloupe to represent the earth, an orange to represent the Moon and a Lime to represent Mars. He then had the students estimate how far each would be apart and the students came very close to the correct positions. The students paid apt attention to all he had to say. After his slide presentation the students went on to present their home-made shuttle.
Check out www.tkn2017newthm.wpengine.com for a photo gallery and audio from the events. Thank you JWE for inviting The Katy News to be part of this production event.