Thursday, May 20, 2010

Live Long and Shoot Aliens

This week I survived a reconnaissance mission to a new planet, witnessed first contact with an alien species, was fired upon by proton torpedoes, and narrowly escaped the shock wave set off by an exploding star ship.

Really, it happened!

You want to know the best part? My 12-year-old students were the ones running the ship.

This week I took my students to the Christa McAuliffe Space Education Center. It is located inside of an elementary school in Pleasant Grove.

In the days leading up to our "mission," my coteacher and I assigned each of our students a position on the star ship: captain, first officer, ambassador, engineer, right wing officer, left wing officer, and so on. The center even supplied us with descriptions of each of the jobs and recommendations for skills a student would need in order to be successful in that post. We briefed the students on their "mission" before leaving on the trip.

At the center, we broke the kids down into their "flight crews," and then we went into the simulators. Walking through the door was really like stepping into a spaceship... or at least the set of a Star Trek episode. Each student had a costume based on their position. Each student had their own computer, training, and aspects of the "ship" that they were in charge of.

I'll save you the rest of the details, but let me just say that I was totally sucked in! My kids did well--some better than others--and we came very close to exploding in the end, but we DID survive. And the success had my kids leaping out of their seats and cheering.

Also, I learned some things about myself:

1. I still have an over-active imagination.

2. I must admit to being a super-nerd.

3. I don't deal well with stress. One of my students later asked me why I had been making faces while she was negotiating with the hostile aliens. I didn't tell her it was because I was biting my tongue to keep from shouting out helpful hints.

My favorite part was when one of my quiet, shy girls came running through the room holding a ray gun. She stopped, locked her eyes on me in a frenzied half-panic, and shouted, "I JUST SHOT AN ALIEN," and then ran back out of the room.

Totally awesome! I want to go back. They let adults come and rent the simulators too.... Anyone interested?


Annie Traynor said...

Do you even have to ask? (That means yes)

be said...

Awe. Some.

Megan and Kenny said...

Only if we can name our ship "The Petunia". If not am out.

Katrina said...

I went there when I was in 5th grade!! I was the captain, and I LOVED IT. It was so much fun. I so wish I could take my students there. They would have enjoyed it so much. Alas, Pocatello and Pleasant Grove are a bit far from each other.

kel said...

Next time we're in town, this is totally where we all should gather.

Frances said...

If you wish to prepare for such things, getting simulators from websites such as would provide good training.