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Local students 'spacing out'

By Staff
Melissa Cason , Franklin County Times
Sixth graders at Russellville Middle School are getting a once in a lifetime opportunity today as they go through a simulated space mission with the help of employees at NASA.
Sixth-grade science teacher Walt James said students built a model space station and orbiter with rocket launcher.
"The kids did all of this themselves, except for the cutting, which could be dangerous."
Each student was given a part in the mission – from mission control to the scientists performing experiments during the mission.
"We tried to give the students parts on a voluntary basis but everyone can't go to space," James said.
The student astronauts made their own space helmet and backpacks for their mission and worked on mission patches, because each NASA mission has its own distinctive patch, unique to the mission.
Poster designs of the students' patches were hung around the gym.
NASA employees explained all the components of a space mission, and the students rehearsed their parts to perfection, down to how to pretend how to space walk.
The community was invited to the school last night to see the student's progress and to see a simulated mission. Telescopes were also provided so the stars could be viewed during the event.
Today, this week's work will culminate with every sixth grade science class going through a simulated mission from blast off to touch down back to earth.
In addition to the simulated mission, seventh and eighth grade students will test the rockets they made as a part of the week's events.
RMS Assistant Principal Karen Thorn has been excited about the space week since she became an RMS administrator. She feels that the experience is a once in a lifetime experience for all the students, and this week's events might have a strong influence on the children.
"You never know what might influence a child," Thorn said. "We might have a future astronaut here at our school,"
RMS is among three county schools to hold Space Week this year. Russellville Middle School and Belgreen School will also have the opportunity later this fall to complete their own missions in space.