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By Amelia Tarallo
On Thursday, September 19, kids had all their questions about space answered during the Needham Library’s Space Adventure program.
Niki Apostolicas, a junior from Needham High School, began the program by having the kids introduce themselves with a few icebreakers. Each kid named their favorite planet, their favorite fruit, and whether or not they would go into space if they had the chance. The answers to the first questions varied, but one thing was clear: all of these kids would take a trip to space if they could.
Apostolicas then launched into his fun program. Each child received a packet to entertain themselves with as they listened. Before he could even begin, kids were armed with questions. “Have the planets ever lined up?” one child asked as Apostolicas readied his interactive PowerPoint. Without missing a beat, Apostolicas explained to his students that the planets had aligned a long time ago (949 AD to be precise), and wouldn’t again until 2494.
After watching an explanatory video, Apostolicas had a question for all of the kids. “If you went to space, what would you bring?” The kids quickly jotted down their list of supplies before Apostolicas went through his own list. A spaceship, a spacesuit, and food and water. Some kids mentioned toothpaste and a toothbrush.
“I’ve had space ice cream,” said one kid, “it tasted pretty awkward.” His comment made everyone, including Apostolicas, laugh.
Coinciding with its 50th anniversary, Apostolicas briefly covered the famous Moon landing. He discussed how vitally important mathematical calculations were for the landing, the space race, and gravity on the moon. “Some people think the moon landing was fake,” said Apostolicas, making a few of the kids gasp. He also briefly covered the inner workings of the space station.
“How many people live on the space station?” one kid asked. Apostolicas surprised everyone, revealing that only six people live on the space station at any time.
The last part of the lesson involved a math problem, which all of the kids were shockingly eager to answer. Everyone weighs 16.5 percent of what you weigh on earth. “If I weigh 100 pounds, how much do you weigh on the moon?” Apostolicas asked. After a quick introduction on how to do the problem, he asked the question again, leading to an immediate correct answer.
Though the class was only an hour long, Apostolicas managed to give these kids a detailed introduction into space, basic astronomy, the history of space travel, and even some basic math. Each child left the class with a pack of gummy candy, a drawing of them on the moon, and an increased interest in space.