Have you ever thought about where you were when certain events have happened that have dramatically impacted lives throughout the world? Certainly, I will always remember the day that J.F.K. was assassinated in Dallas, the afternoon that the USA Hockey Team won the Olympic Gold Medal, and the morning that Christy McAuliffe and her fellow astronauts died in the Challenger explosion. I can still see their proud, smiling faces as they walked past the television cameras towards the lunar module, soon to die in the fiery explosion due to “O” ring malfunctions.
It seems like just yesterday but, in fact, it’s been many years since we’ve witnessed these occurrences, burning indelible impressions upon our minds. Likewise, it’s been decades since the beginnings of space exploration.
When I was a kid, the space program was in its infancy stages. People were wondering if it was ever going to be possible to send animals, no less humans, to the moon. And, in just a few short years, we were witness to Neil Armstrong’s voice echoing throughout the universe: “One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.”
Today, we are on the verge of launching and manning space station laboratories which will enable space scientists to conduct experiments in “weight-less” environments for governmental, commercial and industrial applications. These stations and other orbiting space platforms will allow scientists to observe and record phenomena from perspectives previously unattainable. New frontiers of knowledge will continue to be explored and this will facilitate a greater understanding of our existence as it relates to the Universe as a whole.
Within our curriculum unit, students will be introduced to the marvelous history of our space program; they will have opportunities to read about experiments which are conducted in “weight-less” conditions; they will gain hands-on knowledge of space-related experiments in our science laboratories; they will utilize our Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute computer system to gain access to current data concerning shuttle missions, and they will focus some time on the latest images from the Hubble Space Telescope.
Hopefully, they will develop an appreciation for the diligent efforts of our space scientists and engineers, and they will share in the strong tradition of nationalistic pride in a program designed to observe and explore the boundless limits of the Universe. It is my hope that our students will have the opportunity to gain a richer understanding of the American commitment to space exploration.