On Friday 9 October, the year 6 students set off for a special mission inside the Space Expo. At 8:15 a group of excited students left by bus to Noordwijk. The Space Expo is Europe’s first permanent space exhibition. Space Expo is also the visitors’ center for ESA in the Netherlands, the European Space Agency’s largest technical establishment.
Upon arrival at the Space Expo, the class was divided into 3 groups to start their mission in the museum. Dutch astronaut André Kuipers and author Sander Koenen took the students, by a set of video clips, on an amazing tour of the museum. The students learned all about space and space travel and discovered what it means to be an astronaut. All students received a mission toolkit which contained assignments and experiments to carry out during the mission at the museum. In one assignment the students built a rocket with two strips of paper, some tape and a straw. In another experiment, the students explored why a paper ball falls faster than a piece of paper that is not folded.
During the mission in the museum, the students made an exciting journey of discovery through the universe. One of the highlights was André Kuipers’ original Soyuz capsule, in which André Kuipers made his journey to the International Space Station (ISS). Other highlights were the ability to walk in a model of the International Space Station and the life-size model of the moon landing.
After the students completed the mission and they refuelled themselves during a short snack break, the children received a lesson on how to become an astronaut. The class was very keen to hear the steps you have to go through to become one. They learned that it is definitely not that easy as it requires hard work both physically as mentally and years of study and training. Astronauts also need to be super brave and to be able to deal with stress.
The students learned that there are many important job duties of astronauts. As part of the crew, an astronaut will get assigned different responsibilities on the spacecraft. Right now, astronauts are mainly focused on going to the International Space Station (ISS). On the space station, astronauts work on science experiments that can only be done in space and also monitor experiments that are being controlled from the Earth! They also take care of the space station by performing maintenance, checking the support systems, updating equipment, and more. Astronauts communicate with the Mission Control Center on Earth to get voice or email with instructions or plans.
The lesson ended with three fun activities in which the students learned some Russian words, made star maps and built a rocket. Afterwards, the children received an astronaut’s diploma signed by André Kuipers and a unique Space Academy astronaut’s patch.
All in all, PYP 6 had a great day in which they learned a great deal about space!