Fourth grade students traveled through space this morning―all from the comfort and safety of our outdoor stage at the lower school.
The students are learning about the stars, moon and solar system in class, so having Ron Shaneyfelt, an astronomer and retired teacher who also worked at NASA, was a perfect way to bring the lesson to life since in-person field trips off campus are not possible due to COVID-19 protocols.
"Mr. Shaneyfelt is an expert on the solar system, so he was a great fit for this unit,” said teacher Gina Williams. “He was able to connect some dots for the students about the distance between planets in a unique way.”
Shaneyfelt had students come forward and arrange themselves in order of the planets in the solar system and then asked the students to stand in relation to the space between the planets. After ordering themselves correctly, students were then re-spaced to show just how far apart the planets really are.
After the “whoas” died down, he spoke about space travel “which is always a big interest for the kiddos, but we don't usually get to hear about it,” said Williams.
The students are currently creating their own version of the solar system using materials of their choosing, so “they were over the moon about the presentation and couldn't believe that we met with a real expert,” Williams said.
In addition to hearing about the space program and our solar system, students were also able to see examples of the Mars Rover and other space exploration robots, examples of what soil and rock from different planets look like, models of space shuttles and a plethora of NASA relics, such as astronaut helmets, gloves, food and more.
Next on their travels is a virtual visit to the Old Dominion University Planetarium!