Monday, February 20, 2012

Curriculum Resource: The 50th Anniversary of Americans in Space

Today we can celebrate not only our Founding President and the President who led our nation through its greatest challenge, but also 50 years of Americans in space.  On February 20, 1962, astronaut John Glenn became the first American to orbit the planet in his Friendship 7 space capsule (Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was the first person to orbit the Earth in his Volstok space craft the previous year).   Americans at the time were transfixed during Glenn's approximately four-hour flight, which would lead in just a few years to Americans being the first humans to walk on the moon.

NASA is marking the occasion with an online interactive educational resource on Friendship 7 and the Mercury Space Program.  It has lots of facts and multimedia materials to explore, including interactive views of the interiors of the space capsules, the rocket technology, components of the space suits, flight trajectories, etc.  It also includes video footage of various aspects.

Below is one item from that website. It is a 25 minute video NASA has produced on the 50th Anniversary of Friendship 7:

I think it is hard for our middle schoolers, for whom space travel is such a regular occurence that no one even follows it any more, to realize how revolutionary it seemed at the time.  So I would add to the official NASA videos a couple of great movies about the space program--The Right Stuff and Apollo 13 (which is one of my favorite movies ever).

Hmmm...perhaps after I fix a version of last year's Presidents Day meal, we need to settle down in front of a great space flick tonight....

No comments:

Post a Comment