NORWALK, Conn. - Kids at Norwalk's Columbus Magnet School got a taste of what it's like to travel to the stars Thursday, when the school's Young Astronaut program staged a simulated space mission.
Andy Pearce, commander in chief and fourth-grade teacher, said the school was celebrating its 20th year of staging space missions.
"Every year we have a simulated astronaut mission," Pearce told the Daily Voice. "We run the mission for 24 hours -- where the kids are on a spacecraft, and in Mission Control. And we kind of do the sort of things that NASA would do with their astronauts. The kids are in the craft for the whole 24 hours.
"This year's mission is celebrating two things: this is the 20th mission - it all began in 1996. And we're also celebrating the 20th anniversary of the deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope."
Pearce, who admitted to always wanting to be an astronaut, said the response to the program is very positive.
"The rest of the school's kids are fascinated, excited, energized," Pearce said. "They can't wait to do this themselves. It's science, technology, engineering, math ... they all want to do it."
To qualify for the program, students must enroll in the Young Astronauts Program when they first arrive at the school in the first grade. By the fifth grade, training becomes more extensive, and includes physical training as well, just like real astronauts.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.