Kids test to become astronauts

PUHI — “He really wants to go,” Jill Chow said. “Does that qualify as news?”

Chow was referring to her son Mason Chow, who was one of 15 Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School students who arrived with their parent teams for the second of four Lunar Challenge night activities recently.

The task facing the group is to design and build a model of the first lunar settlement. Kris Fujita, the teacher in charge, said that NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) officials haven’t built one yet, but who knows?

The lunar-colony exercise is part of NASA’s new space-travel mission: “From the Earth, to the Moon, to Mars, and Beyond!”

During the most recent activity, five teams worked in collaboration with each other to secure their “building permits” for the lunar settlement.

As a prelude to launching their creative designs, each of the 15 students and their parents were asked to participate in a space survey, to see if they are qualified to be astronauts.

Questions were based on actual surveys used by NASA leaders to screen potential astronauts, and Mason Chow passed his survey with flying colors.

“I wouldn’t make a good astronaut,” his mom said upon discovering that the results of her survey had her as a short-term space traveler at best.

But, Fujita explained that, sometimes the best designers are the ones planted on earth, and if there is a situation, it is the ones whose feet are planted on the ground that need to bring the others home.

The 15 students represent the maximum number of students for the class, and over a four-week period, the lunar-colony model will take place, culminating with a completion celebration on Thursday, Oct. 27.

“We are pleased to be able to offer this stimulating learning experience to our students and their families,” Fujita said.

On the agenda next is a Family Astronomy Night scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 18, and a visit by NASA Educational Specialist Tom Gates, who works out of Ames Research Center in California.

During his visit here, Gates will be working with eighth-grade students on the topics of solar energy and the electromagnetic spectrum.

Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School is a NASA Explorer School and, according to Fujita, “each year, we offer a wonderful calendar of NASA-based activities for our students and their families.”

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