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Salt River Elementary Students Learn About the Wonders of Space

SRES students are lined up in order of the planets.

On October 26, Salt River Elementary School hosted its annual Space Day event to promote the STEAM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).

Guest speakers were brought in from educational and nonprofit organizations including the Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration, the Planetary Science Institute and Orbital ATK, to name a few. Presentations were specifically planned to cater to each grade level.

Students are fully engaged in Dr. Jim Rice's presentation about his dream of becoming an astronaut.
One presenter, John Goddard with the Challenger Space Center, brought in giant inflatable orbs representing different planets. Students participated by helping distinguish the characteristics of each planet and what makes it unique. Goddard then brought out a container full of liquid nitrogen. He stuffed inflated balloons into the box; the balloons shriveled up when placed into the extremely cold liquid nitrogen, which was at -320 degrees F. When brought back out, the balloons would warm up and return to their normal form.

Dr. Jim Rice from the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson spoke to the SRES Student Council and Robotics Club students about his dream of becoming an astronaut. Rice almost made it; he was a NASA Astronaut Candidate Finalist in 2000 and 2009. Even though his journey didn’t go as planned, he said, it opened other doors of opportunity in the space field that he never dreamt of.

Dr. Jim Rice from the Planetary Science Institute speaks to students and staff.
His main message to the students was to not give up on their dreams.

“When you have failures, you’re going to have to keep on going,” Rice said. “You’re going to have failures in life, I can tell you that right now. I’m not going to sugar-coat it. But you’ve got to learn from those experiences.”

Senior scientist at PSI, Rice has a Ph.D. in geological sciences from ASU and is a co-investigator and Geology Team Leader on the Mars Exploration Rover Project (Spirit and Opportunity). He also has mission experience working on the Mars Odyssey Orbiter and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter projects. Rice has organized and led several NASA-sponsored field conferences to Mars analog sites around the world.

Everyone braces themselves, during an experiment, as the balloons go in the box. John Goddard with the Challenger Space Center, lets the students feel the icy cold nitrogen.