A group of around 40 students from a math and science program in Kansas City visited the Cosmosphere on Thursday in Hutchinson.
Executive Director William Wells said aSTEaM Village started in 2011 at Benjamin Banneker Charter Academy as an after-school robotics program. When students from other schools joined the program because nothing like it was offered at their schools, the program outgrew its space.
Thanks to a donated location, the program now serves students from first grade through high school in eight school districts. Programs cover a wide variety of subjects, including the STEM core of science, technology, engineering and math. The “a” in STEaM covers arts, agriculture, aerospace and architecture, to name a few, Wells said. (The initial “a” stands for all-inclusive and apolitical, he added.)
Wells said students from the program have had experiments conducted aboard the International Space Station.
The group saw a planetarium show, a live science show in Dr. Goddard’s Lab and a documentary in the digital dome theater, toured the Hall of Space Museum and finished the day by making their own air-powered paper rockets and test-firing them in the lobby underneath the SR-71 Blackbird.
Student Ja’Lyn Lewis said the show in Dr. Goddard’s Lab was her favorite part of the trip. She expected predictable experiments, but it actually caught her by surprise.
“I had no idea you could liquefy oxygen,” Lewis said.
She added that she liked the Cosmosphere’s feeling of authenticity, with its large collection of real space artifacts, adding that even the replicas were well made.
Student Tony Gant said the SR-71 made a great first impression walking in the front door, and he enjoyed learning more about it. He said he was surprised to see all the real artifacts in the museum.