Some children in an aerospace and engineering magnet school will have the added fun of launching NASA inspired playground equipment.
At Wichita’s Mueller Elementary School, the magnet program will be the first in the USA to launch the Space Discovery Institute program, giving kids hands on experience with aerospace technology. They’ll start with an out of this world experience on the playground: a NASA-grade lunar rover, Mars rover, and space plane.
“This will be the flagship,” said Arthur Eldridge, chairman of the institute and an education ambassador for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.“We’ve been working on it for several years, just getting everything in place,” he said. “We hope to have it all up and operational this fall.”
More than an acre of land outside the school will be transformed into a lunar base and a Mars base. The space plane will sit on the playground – and house a working laboratory for 30 students and well as the lunar and Mars robots.
“It’s not like a joystick and you just drive it around,” said Eldridge, a retired Air Force F-4 pilot and NASA flight crew instructor. “They’ll actually be learning to drive those as our jet propulsion laboratory folks do: You have to propose a plan … and then fit in the mathematics that will take it from one point to another. This is real stuff.”