BSA Space Exploration Experience


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Nov 13, 2009
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Yesterday I brought my oldest to attend a very large merit badge fair (1,200+ registered boys) for Boy Scouts. His afternoon merit badge class was for Space Exploration. Since we got to class so early, I made my acquaintance with the instructor, who happened to be the director of the NASA Center for Radiation Engineering and Science for Space Exploration at a nearby university.

Over the course of our conversation, I mentioned that I fly with a rocket club and I directed him to the club's web site. He was surprised at how big the rockets were.

The class began filling up, and wound up with about 30 to 35 boys. It appeared that most of the boys were in the 11 to 14 year old range, and a handful in the 15 to 16 year-old age range.

Unfortunately they didn't build rockets, but made "rockets" from plastic film canisters and a quarter tablet of generic Alka-Seltzer. I don't know what the impulse was, but I'm thinking it was an "A". I think the boys were disappointed about that, but most schools are fearful of mishaps and most instructors just don't want to fight the battle. It's not the way we want things, but that's where we are. However, the instructor did spend about 5 minutes showing the parts of a rocket using an Estes Patriot.

Near the end of the class the instructor had to break from teaching up front and had to check the work of each Boy Scout. At this point he began to "lose" the class since there wasn't anything interesting going on. I talked with one of the class helpers and asked if I could show some things to the class. I just happened to have a flash drive with some rocket related videos on it and showed the scouts some HPR videos and some manned space flight footage from the '60s, and relate to them how cool it was that my parents let me stay up late on Sunday night so that I could watch astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin walk on the moon.

The instructor appreciated me jumping in and helping him maintain control of the class, and said that he might come out and visit a club launch. Hopefully the class learned something as well, and you never know if perhaps a future astronaut was sitting in class.




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Jan 12, 2010
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30-35 kids! Alright! Yeah that is too bad about not building "rockets". I haven't ran into a situation like that...yet, but I run mine through my library, which our insurance covers and others through Recreation Dept, Extension Office, and the Scouts. All have waivers to sign and I suspect that the others have some sort of insurance coverage.

Way to go Greg! It's a blast (no pun) huh?