Saturday, October 20, 2007

Challenger Learning Center of Alaska

Friday, Oct. 19 all the Girl Scout troops from Homer, plus one from Seward, made a trip to Kenai to the Challenger Learning Center of Alaska. This place is billed as the closest simulation to a space flight besides the real thing. Anyone can take tours of the place, but the activities and simulations are only open to groups. Many corporations come here for training, teambuilding or even interview missions where they put the various candidates for a job in a room and see how they react to situations. This is a non-profit organization hosted in a 9-million-dollar building that is debt free. Since Kenai is home to many huge oil companies they have some hefty sponsors.

Aurora, pictured above, started out in the Space Station. Each girl had a task; hers was to use the robotic arm to pick up and weigh a solution. She said it was very challenging. Halfway through the 2 1/2 hour session they switched with the girls in Mission Control. There Aurora was Isolated 1. She found it really exciting to use email to connect with the other people on this mission. Each person had to complete their task in order for someone else to complete their own. Aurora liked getting on the computers in Mission Control most, and said the whole experience felt almost real.

Denver went along (since I was a driver) and he got to go through the rocketry session for the K-2 kids (there were 2 other boys in this roomful of 35+ girls, but that didn't stop Denver from raising his hand every time he knew an answer!). He said the best part of it for him was having to communicate in order for teamwork to happen. Everyone was broken up into groups of 6 and had to develop a balloon rocket. Part of the challenge was to discover what level of payload would be "just right" to make the rocket fly best. Denver said in his group the rocket launch that worked the best was with 1 payload (a paperclip), though they tried it with up to 6 payloads. Then the kids got to make their own paper rockets and then went outside and launched them. The laucher had 30 pounds of pressure and some of those rockets really flew!! Many even embedded into the ground. Needless to say, that was great fun!

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