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State Museum Volunteers Rendezvous with a Comet

By Pam Borawski, Volunteer Scheduler

State Museum Volunteers at the Challenger Center

In November, a group of twenty-three volunteers from the South Carolina State Museum visited the Challenger Learning Center of Richland County School District One in Columbia, SC. We were split up into two groups for a simulation mission entitled, “Rendezvous with a Comet.” One half of our group went to Mission Control, and the other half went to the International Space Station. Divided up into teams of two, we all were given various tasks we had to complete both with our partner, and with the group as a whole. Halfway through the program, everyone switched places; those in mission control were now in the space station and vice versa.

It was a humbling experience! The program was designed for 8th graders, yet many of us found ourselves struggling with the concepts and procedures necessary to do our jobs. As part of part of the navigation (NAV) team, one of the duties was to work on programming a robot to retrieve a chunk of a comet. It was far more difficult than the team imagined! The medical team worked on testing how our bodies react differently in space. Volunteer Susan Jones, who was part of the Isolation (ISO) team, noted the hands-on component of this field trip helped museum volunteers assimilate the information far better than if we’d merely had a lecture. Another volunteer said, “This is the best trip we’ve taken.”

Our main goal during the simulated mission was to compile all the data needed from various comets to determine which comet we were going to send a probe out to so it could collect a rock. Unfortunately, the medical team realized a burst of radiation was coming from the sun, and the team on the space station did not see the alerts in time and had to be evacuated. We ended up sacrificing volunteer Tim Bradshaw for the good of the mission! Due to Tim’s sacrifice, we were able to complete our work and collect a rock from the chosen comet. Mission accomplished!

We are looking for new volunteers to join us at the South Carolina State Museum! For more information on volunteering! Click HERE to learn more or call (803) 898-4912.

For more information on the Challenger Learning Center, please clicke HERE or call (803) 929-3951.